You’re here, I’m pleased. I really dig your company!
Your style, your smile, your peace mentality.
Jill Scott, “A Long Walk”
My name’s Osheta and welcome to my blog! My digital city bench, if you will. Some of my favorite moments in my life have happened on a city bench not unlike the one in the picture. So, come here and sit beside me, Friend.
I want to know everything about you.
Let me start the introductions by telling you a tale of three benches:
I fell in love with my husband and the city on a wooden bench on the West Bank of New Orleans. We met on a short-term urban missions trip during Mardi Gras. His first words to me after a day of ministering to kids in a housing development in New Orleans were,
“I hope you don’t mind me telling you this, but I think you’re beautiful”.
Three years later, I married that man. I mean, wouldn’t you if he was both good with kids and good with words?
After our wedding (which we pulled off for under $3000- honeymoon included), we moved into an under-resourced neighborhood called, “Hollygrove”. Our apartment was in a drive-by. We had drug dealers around our kitchen table for dinner. I knew we were exactly where we should be. When I was eight months pregnant with our middle boy, Hurricane Katrina drowned our beloved city, so we evacuated to Boston for seminary.
When I could steal away from the kids and the studying husband, I would go to Harvard Square and rest on a bench underneath a tree covered in fiery red, vibrant orange, and muted green leaves. There, I fell deeper in love with Jesus, his teachings, and the word “Shalom”. Shalom, is God’s dream for our world that includes harmony, wholeness, and beauty- a state where nothing is missing and nothing is broken.
In those nine years in Cambridge I started a women’s ministry. Hubs built a mentoring program. Eventually, we planted a church.
Just when we thought we’d settle down in New England for good, my husband got a surprising invitation from a pastor in Los Angeles:
“Apply to be my associate pastor.”
So, I asked my friend to meet me for a walk, where we stopped to pray on a bench overlooking the Charles River. We prayed for confirmation that this amazing opportunity to serve in a church that meets just blocks away from Skid Row, whose community is made up of the homeless and the loft dweller was for us. He did and a month later we moved.
Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops.
Now that we’re in L.A, I try to spend one morning a week on a park bench facing the Foothills of La Crescenta. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes, I journal about what’s next. The big questions right now are:
What does a girl with all this city experience have to offer the suburbs? Do I even belong here?
Three different cities, three different circumstances, three different benches— the same calling- listen, learn, and love.
Be a peacemaker.
Seek wholeness right where I am with exactly what I have in my hands.
Here on “Shalom in the City” we’ll sit down together on this digital city bench, watch what’s going on in our world and share our thoughts.
We’ll talk about hard things with grace, annoying things with a sense of humor, and occasionally, I’ll share my earbuds with you so we can listen to my favorite playlists.
I’m sure you have lots of words too, so subscribe, and feel free to comment.
I’m so glad you’re here.