Living in the Suburban Sprawl (Mountains beyond Mountains)

Proverb 27:19 As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.

A spiritual journey begins in the oddest of all places.  In the confusion of a realization that true love in the sense of a perfect relationship is, understandably, impossible and unrequited.  And stomping off into the night.  Waiting at a street corner, trees on the sides, black as night, under the street lights.  Half awake in the surburbs, hoping for something indescribable.

A construct all encompassing, detached and wondering, what is the purpose?  Knowing something isn’t right, in the suburbs.  Growing up in the suburbs.  Taught the stories.  Given the instructions.  On the surface it all makes sense.  Punch the clock, take a drive, work some hours, wear the uniform, entertainment, television, and classes upon classes.

I was a young man once, but then I was a young man in his twenties.  Feeling out of place wherever he went.  Always out of place.  Always pressure.  Pressure to be someone, employee, family member, brother, son, friend, citizen, faceless consumer.  Suffocating, starving, on the edge.  Couldn’t quite breath the air, too thin to take in.

Something wasn’t right about it all.  The consuming society, the producing society.  The suburbs so formatted.  Flying along the highways and biways trying to understand it all.  Everything costs something, everything exacting a price.  Going from place to place, yet every place seems to be same.  Same restaurants, same intersections, same skyline..

Joy was fleeting.  On some sort of journey.  Wandering the streets at night.  Almost every night I would be out there.  It was a place of bareness.  I could see better in the dark than I could in the sprawl.  Day was too bright.  In the silence, tracking along quiet forest streets, meandering between street lights listening to indie rock.. wondering.  Why am I here? What is this for?

Most will never slow down long enough to wonder.  The truth snuck in the back door, of night walks.  Hour after hour, 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning, 4 in the morning, 6 AM, 7 AM.  On and on.  Mile after mile.  Music playing, thoughts spinning, imagining scenarios in my mind.  Asking questions.

Laughing out loud in the darkness.  Feeling the desperate relief of nothingness, nowhere, void winter nights.

From my earliest memories I wanted to save the world.  Desperately wanted to fight for the truth.  Never knew the truth.  Caught up in the surburbs.  Caught up in the grind.  Daily go, go, go. Drive, drive, listen to radio, snap on the TV.  So fast, so fast.

When we were kids we had nowhere to go.  Nowhere was safe.  On the bus, at school, in the bedroom, doing homework, in the hallway, at basketball practice, always told to be something.  Never feeling entirely myself wherever I was.  Nowhere was home.  Yet, being alone in the woods, with a group of friends meandering the streets, that was home.

Asking others, what is happening here?  I don’t like money!  Don’t you want something more than sex!?  No one seemed to understand.  Clocks were always ticking, always assignments to turn in on biology, math, and scientism.  Nowhere to hide, brainwashing sinking in.  Materialism, and bang, go!  Chase the money at all costs.  Don’t ask questions, don’t dare wonder why!  Don’t ask how you got here!

But what was happening?  Is it spirit?  Can I change the world?  Can I stop the megamonsters from devouring the city, from destroying the suburbs?  Can I stop the mighty CEO from bankrupting the world?  Can I change anything?  If so, how?  And if I can, would it matter 200 years from now?  Where do I go when I die?  Why do I exist?  What is the purpose of life?  What is meaning?  How do I change this?  Why am I so addicted?  Why can’t I breath?  Why can’t I sleep!?

Spiritual journey.  Eyes open.  Light sneaking in through the night.  The moon, the stars.  Hope in the quiet.  Heart shining bright.

Intersections upon intersections.  Mountains beyond mountains.  Problems and more problems.  Hope in the shadows.  Light in the alleys.  Comprehension in silence.  Mountains beyond mountains.  Ideas beyond ideas.  Spirit by spirit.  Eyes seeing something.  Threat of destruction.  Final ego crush, last moments, last gasps of breath..

Consumerism in the veins, desperation, hospitals upon hospitals.  Detox beyond detox.  Answers in the forest.. a tree shining brightly.  Jesus Christ, please save me.

Living in the suburban sprawl.  Saved from a consumerist nightmare in the veins.  Stuffed to the core with addiction, sex, entertainment.  Hope in the simplicity, God in the shadows of the night walks, stars above and trees to all sides, hope born in the repeating disasters of the past, eyes open, covered in red, cleared of distortion, finally, sight and eyes that see.

In the suburbs things are pretty straight.  You’ve got shrubs, paved roads, insights, jobs, benefits, family life, doorbells, classrooms, soccer fields, sunlight, laughter, and suburban disaster.  Maybe somewhere there is a twisted boy, running down the night roads screaming within, why is this happening?  Why am I here!?  Is he crazy?  Has he lost his mind?  Doesn’t he understand about money and marriage?  Doesn’t he have a job?

But maybe if he wants to know the truth sincerely enough, maybe if he cries out loud enough, God might step out of the shadows and introduce him to hope.  A chance to save the world at last.  A new life beyond the suburbs, where the mouth can breath and the eyes can see clearly, and finally, unplugged from the total dream world.  Woken up.  Changing into who he actually is.

Wake up.  Are you there?  Can you hear me?  There is a way out of the sprawl.  There is only one who can move the mountains beyond mountains.  He is Spirit.  He is truth.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

(This post inspired by a song by Arcade Fire called Sprawl II – Mountains beyond Mountains)

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