in the night as the sun sets over St. Paul. The pavement is hot because the July sun baked it then frosted it with oil and tire rubber, but the air quickly begins to cool as the tall buildings push themselves in front of the waning sun.
I used to ride my motorcycle at times like this. In part it was because the traffic was lightening up and the road seemed more free and then, again, it was also a good time to see and hear and smell a city settling in for the night. As the sun descended lights would turn on one by one and a kind of calm would fall.
As a younger person I remember coming to St. Paul while my dad was commuting each week from our home in Wisconsin. Everything seemed so tall, so large, so much more of everything than where I was from. It still is that way and there are times when it all seems so noisy and oppressive and hot and full of people crawling around like ants. Yet it has also become my home, the beauty of it, the quiet tree lined streets and even the places where it would be wise to leave before the street lights come on.
When we moved here more than two decades ago we came because we could find places we could afford and we came because we wanted to live, serve, and minister in the city. Older now, we sometimes think of selling and finding a townhome in the suburbs where someone else will mow our lawn and shovel our walks. Yet we are still here, most of the neighbors who were there when we first came have come and gone and the lady across the street who was there before us is thinking about selling and taking up an apartment somewhere. Yet we are still here.
Sometimes I like to drive through the city with the windows down and take it all in. If we ever leave I will miss the sights, sounds, and even the smell that comes up Swede Hollow from the Mississippi. Sometimes at night when I’m awake I just pray for my neighbors, and the city; pray for God to take care of us all in the night and that peace would fall on our little patch of a sometimes crazy world. For the most part everything has been good.
One day its almost certain that a truck will come and take our things and ourselves away from this place. That’s the way of life. Yet here we are on a hot July night in this place we’ve made home, this place where a church was started, this place that we can move away from any time but never leave. That’s also the way of life.
God, in your mercy, wherever we may travel in this life please keep an eye out for St. Paul.