For about 15 years I have lived on the corner of Western Avenue and Vyne Street – one block from the old Rocky Mount Senior High. I never felt afraid. We had all of our doors unlocked most of the time and our screen doors let in the fresh air.
The girls and I would take walks in the park across the street, and we’d talk to passersby. We walked around the block many times. We picked flowers in the springtime and played in the snow during the winter. When strangers came up, I opened the door.
I was naive – maybe fearless, trusting. We loved our neighbors and cared for each other.
I would pray for the neighborhood boys, fearfully concerned for them, knowing the gangs were lurking in the shadows. As I watched them grow, I became more concerned for their well-being, and my prayers became more intense.
We heard guns, but it wasn’t often.
We moved back to my childhood neighborhood last year. I often wonder what would happen to our city if we weren’t so fearful and moved back into those areas ... wartorn ... needy.
I almost feel like I no longer belong where I am, but should be where I was.
I feel disconnected.
When I ride by our old house, I notice some neighbors have left. I long to know if Michael is back in jail. He gave his life to Christ at our church.
Our mission field – and yours – is this city. It must be ... it should be ... but not if we are disconnected.
Just picturing myself back at the little bridge at Western Avenue Park catching crawdads with my girls and the kids in the neighborhood who knew we cared because we were there.
Where are we now?
Safe, I suppose … but where are they?
Susan C. Young