He lives in a pristine southern suburb with my ex-wife. He doesn't always have a sense or a feel for neighborhood things, so his question was completely childlike and sincere. My son literally didn't know if he was in a good neighborhood or a tough neighborhood, because what he'd ASSUMED was a tough part of Minneapolis was decorated with balloons, singing was in the air along with the smell of grilled hot dogs, and children laughed on playground equipment. And yet my son also saw a police officer standing watch. So which was it? Good neighborhood? Bad neighborhood? Simple solution to the problem: ask his father, Johnny Northside. His father will know.
"Alex," I told him. "We are in the best neighborhood in the world. This part used to be tough, but now it's being completely changed by people in Jordan who have fought to turn it around. We're fine here."
I leaned to my son and quietly said...
"Alex, do you see that cop from the Fourth Precinct standing watch? Do you think ANYTHING is going to happen right under the nose of that cop?"
My son who lives most of his life in a pristine southern suburb with my ex-wife (not just a good mother, but an excellent mother) was willing to go by himself into the church and all around the grounds. I hated to let my son out of my sight but, as I said to Connie, "One day he'll go to college. I won't see him for weeks at a time. He'll be off by himself. It's just hard to let go of him, sometimes."
I looked at the new and restored church. My son, I realized, was in God's hands. Aren't we all?
The church was amazing inside. Because stained glass had been removed during its long vacancy--either stolen or sold off, I didn't have information as to which--the windows had regular glass, and even the ultra-modern pulpit and communion table were made of glass. The lack of stained glass seemed to highlight the beauty of the wood inside. What need is there of stained glass made by human artists, when there is wood made by God? Wood like Jesus crafted when He was a carpenter, wood like the Cross of Calvary?
I sat with my son in front of the alter. And though I often joke about being a member of the "Church Of The Deadbolt Lock," I found it easy to pray to God in a newly-restored church at the epicenter of NoMi neighborhood revitalization. I sent a special and purposeful prayer to God there, for the sake of a dear and beloved friend. My son sat beside me in the pew, once he received the lawful parental order to sit quietly and feel the presence of God. Could I possibly have a better son? I could not. Praise the Lord, and more on Alex in a blog post coming soon.