Archives for posts with tag: Benton Park West

Prayer candle

This week began our Wednesday evening prayer for safety and peace in St Louis.

Behind the candle in our window is the bell tower of St Francis de Sales.  Gail and I started our eight o’clock hour of prayer observance with the bell of St Francis.  We joined other Temple House homes on Arsenal, Wyoming and Jefferson (and in solidarity even far off in Chicago).  A candle in our window for one hour.

It was an hour of meditation and peace contrasting with gunfire and violence.  It is part of our witness.  And we believe that it also is a time of God at work in us and in our Benton Park West neighborhood.



Last night we headed west on Arsenal Street to Linda’s place.  Sweatshirt.  Light sweater.  December with no coats.

Has the weather this month where you live been warm, remarkably warmer than usual?  It’s been so in St Louis.  Yesterday may have set a record high with temps in the low 70s.  Our December weather is acting as backdrop for the global climate summit just ending in Paris.

We have now lived 14 weeks in Benton Park West.  Am I noticing what is going on in my neighborhood?

My morning run.  I run south through several of our neighborhoods.  Benton Park West.  Mount Pleasant.  Gravois Park.  Dutchtown.  Quiet places in the morning.  No crazy stuff other than a rare stray dog who wants to get too close to me.  I see neighborhoods rubbing their eyes as they put children out to wait for school buses.  Men and women returning from night shifts.

I also am beginning to notice changes.  New work beginning on the old yet beautiful St Louis brick houses on every block.  Mansions and humble working class homes built in the 19th century.  I note the portico temporarily propped on Nebraska Street now displaying proper columns.  One of my favorite places at a southwest corner on Ohio that has had backyard cleanup going on for weeks, now there are lights inside.  Is someone planning to fix up and live in it?

All along the streets of my running route I see the same places, and change.

This change, sometimes seen incrementally, other times dramatic (like another house on Nebraska wiped off its lot by demolition), I am learning to see it.

It is part of a larger rhythm, the rhythm of a city.

Here’s the entrance to that Ohio house –

photo 4 (2)

  A little bit of lavender Betsy picked from Temple Gardens.

We said goodbye today at noon to John and Betsy who helped us move in this Labor Day weekend to Benton Park West.  Without them we couldn’t have done it.  Thanks, John and Betsy.

Several Temple House dwellers came over yesterday to welcome us with a meal.  Darren barbecued pork steaks and chicken.  We think he’s become kind of an expert at this.  Everyone pitched in and we had a great time of food and visiting.


Captain Mary Kim joined us for the evening. The Captain is identifying the table flowers from Temple Garden. Kamaria Gage finds something funny. Char Lopez finds something to ponder.

Why are we here on Arsenal Street?  Our convictions.  We have thought about this for some time, for decades.  But even with convictions and long considered thoughts there is uncertainty.  We fix our eyes on the will of God.  But out of the corner of the eye we catch a flit of movement.  There’s more there than what’s right in front of us.  I’ll write more.  Just not now.

Now?  Get settled in.  Get to know our neighbors better.   Listen and look.  And let our neighbors learn about us.


first morning on ArsenalJust a quick note this Saturday morning.

It’s now come to pass:  Gail and I are on Arsenal Street in St Louis’ Benton Park West.  With help from John and Betsy we moved a mattress and some personal belongings after work and were able to spend our first night here.

After moving I mentioned to Betsy that this would be the first time I’ve lived this close to a Salvation Army corps building.  From in front of our home I simply look to the west and can see St Louis Temple Corps.  I can see into the lobby.

This week Gail and I have moved some of our stuff each night.  We’ve also met and talked with neighbors on this block.  Marlo to the east.  The two men across the street who regularly sit talking at the pickup truck.

Today, more moving.  But we are here.

Last night we watched fireworks, standing on the front step of the house we have begun living in since moving to St Louis almost two weeks ago.  fireworksWe saw the flashes.  A second later, heard the booms, crackles.  Sharp reports.

The house is in the western suburb of Ballwin, where we are now learning our bearings.  Many other Salvation Army officers around the USA are doing the same.  New roads, stores, neighbors, routines.

Several miles to the east in St Louis, sharp reports.  Benton Park West.  John tells us that the past two weeks have been shooting days in his neighborhood.

On two different ocassions, two young men, shot in the back.  John has become attuned to hearing shots, distinguishing the direction they come from, detecting patterns, developing valuable wisdom as to where, when and how to show up and move about his neighborhood.

John waited to drive home.  Shooting season combined with the 4th means exercising prudence as to when you return home.

On the night before the Fourth of July my phone rang as I was headed down the grocery aisle for eggs.  Auxiliary Captain Steve Diaz.  He was checking to see if John was with me, hoping John would know where their missing van was.  It wasn’t where they had parked it.


Moving in, living in the neighborhood.  Learning our bearings.  Bearing the challenges and burdens of that new life.  It varies, doesn’t it?  I see fireworks.  He hears gunshots.  Who took the van.

I’ll get the car washed today.  It’s about time.  I hope I also remember to pray for recovery of a missing van.

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