Spring is here, and it warms my heart because the city seems to open up when the nice weather stays. Spring is rife with meaning for people, but for me it holds the key to why I love my city.
I came to Hamilton in a very typical, for-university way. The reason I stayed is not really that clear. I’ve been in downtown Hamilton for nearly ten years (for most of it, we didn’t even have a car!). Life has not convinced us to leave the city yet, but I am a country girl at heart.
I spent big chunks of my childhood walking through deep woods and soft fields. My heart still pines for those spaces. I used to know rich and subtle details about the landscapes around me. The homes on my country road were full of people whom I, at least, vaguely knew. My world was comfortable. I knew the fields, the crops, and the derelict barns. In the summer, I would go camping for ten days and then return. I was amazed and humbled by how quickly corn could ripen or how many tomatoes could spoil in just ten days.
Somehow, in this city, details get lost and overwhelmed in my brain. The people around me can feel like they are no longer my neighbours, but just people who tread the same sidewalks.
Two years ago my family was in the thick of yet another move (sixth in seven years!). It was the middle of spring, and one of my oldest friends, Laura, who grew up a few concession roads from my old home, came for a visit. We spent the afternoon talking and walking along the rail trail with my two children (S was only a few weeks old).
Laura and I were talking about childhood aspirations. What had adolescent Elisha wanted in life? I was the first to admit that I didn’t imagine myself living with two kids in the city. It’s just not my ideal family raising situation. I still wanted that. I was mad at God because I didn’t have that. I longed live closer to “home” in every sense of the word.
It was a very tough time in my life; I would say one of the darkest. I wanted to feel contentment, but I could only think of how NOT ideal everything was. The move we were packing up for was a particularly hard one. We had been housesitting in a nice home with a large backyard, but the house was no longer available. Even with careful budgeting, we were signing a lease for a bottom-of-the-barrel, two bedroom apartment in a high-rise building. What I thought I wanted was to live at the end of a small dirt road with woods for my kids to run in, a large garden, and a place for chickens.
As I explained to Laura, two things of grace happened last minute. One, we received a half plot in the Hill Street Community Garden; and two, friends rented their place to us at an affordable price. We would be moving into a house downtown, a better fit than an apartment building.
I remember saying to Laura that my heart had opened up that spring. My perspective had changed. I learned that desires are transferrable! The underlying desire between those dreams is this: I wanted love and familiarity to surround me. What I got was a garden plot, a little space of stewardship and life. And I also received a community (we’ve been in the same house for ALMOST two years, a record for us!), neighbours who care and love us, and a network of mothers I meet in the park. These were the real answers to the desires of my heart.
That is often what I think of in the spring, as I’m walking through my neighbourhood, or pining for the garden to be warm enough for seeds. I am still a country girl in the city, but now I am at home.
The mission of Intersection is to help our readers to see how the gospel of Jesus intersects & transforms all of life in a very real way. Our goal is to destroy the false & harmful dichotomy between 'the sacred' & 'the secular' by presenting a wide range of perspectives that focus on different aspects of life in the city. These stories, reflections, observations, & opinions all have one thing in common—the shared conviction that every arena of life can be holy & beautiful when it is lived out in full awareness of the gospel & in full submission to the leadership of Jesus. Although the Intersection team loves, values, & supports all of its contributors, the views expressed in their posts are ultimately their own & may not necessarily reflect the beliefs & values of New City Church.