I woke up early, slipped downstairs, made coffee, and consolidated my notes for the sermon I was to give a few hours later that morning in the corps’ building across the street.

It was yet dark.  And quiet.  Getting to sleep last night was a throw back to a few years ago when we lived in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood.  Cars and motorcycles.  But this morning, quiet.

Notes completed, I texted John.  I’d be at his place a little after 7 for a run.  Okay.

Just as yesterday, John led me on the route he’s used recently.  East on Arsenal, south at Benton Park Coffee to Cherokee.  John pointed out the Buddhist center as we approached.  A young man, shaved head, robes, tidying the sidewalk in front.  He stopped, smiled and waved as we passed.  West to Gravois, north and east on Utah.  Back to John’s place.

I was enjoying this but it also felt strange.  After 36 months living in the suburbs where there is very little connection with my neighborhood or the people around me, for one weekend I was living, working, and eating with people on the same street. 

Five households of Salvation Army people have moved to live within one block of each other on Arsenal Street.  The truth, yes, there are challenges.  Steve and John discussed how at times life can get very intense.  But there is also a beauty and richness to the kind of life this community of a handful of households experiences.

Gail and I live in a not untypical suburban fashion.  Busy lives, often hardly home.  We’ve lived in our place just a short while.  No prior connections.  How long will we be here?  Sounds like many others.

Young adults. Working together in the corps.  Watching out for one another.  Cookout under the stars and whirling bats overhead.   It is a contrast with the kind of lifestyle I now lead. 

Could I live on Arsenal Street like this?

I think any of us could.  If we did what was right in honoring our need for personal care, just as in our service we honor the needs of others.

Dear Steve, 

Gail and I enjoyed your hospitality, sharing your home for the weekend.  It allowed us to actually feel what it is like to be part of the neighborhood.  I loved the walk with Kyle to get coffee, running in the neighborhood.  With the corps building, the houses, and Booth Manor it felt like Salvation City.  It is a rich experience with a high impact on your ministry.  People know who you are, and you know them, too. 

This weekend we also talked about the dangers.  I’m going to be tongue-in-cheek here, but if you want to develop short-sightedness, exhaustion, temptation, don’t take the time for your personal needs and make sure that your Temple team follows your example.  Guaranteed trouble.  I know that if Army people in ministry in less intense settings are facing great challenges as they do now, how much more will you, your family, and your team.  Take care of yourself and others.

Yes, I could live on Arsenal Street in St Louis.  If I honor the personal needs and responsibilities of the person God so loves.  Whether it’s the other, or me.

If you’re interested in living a life of service on Arsenal Street in St Louis, contact john_aho@usc.salvationarmy.org or stephen_diaz@usc.salvationarmy.org


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