Recently I came across some thoughts I had penned within the first two months of our move.
I’ve lived most of my life in the NW, growing up in the Portland/Vancouver metro area. But there’s just something… how do I put it… special… about this city.As I read those thoughts this past week, something struck me about the nature of my initial impression and my expressed affection for the city. Amidst all my words and the things that I loved, I found one glaring omission: people. Sure, I still love the buildings, the spirit, and landscape of Olympia. But now, after four years, it's amazing how many names and faces have been woven into my story. The greatest part about Olympia is not a destination but a growing circle of personal relationships both inside my church community and out. I've now lived here long enough to become friends with my neighbors and get to know the amazing staff at my children's school. I have been here long enough to know trials, to get hurt, to face problems, to laugh at dozens of weddings, to dedicate numerous babies, and even weep through a handful of funerals. And now, like never before, the gospel drives me to love my city.
I love the water- Capitol Lake, Budd Inlet, Percival Landing, the bubbling fountain. I love it all. Especially on those spectacular summer days when the sun sparkles and the sky beams blue, everything is just so bright. Can you tell that I haven’t lived here during the dreary drip called fall-winter-spring?
I love the bumperstickers. Pro-choice, pro-life, republi-demo-indie-crat? Some weird ones, some funny ones, and some that are down-right bizarre. But, you know what? I am never bored sitting at a red light anymore.
I love the environmental spirit. Whether it is the undercurrent to support local businesses, the local Co-op, or the plethora of walkers, bikers, hikers that I see, something deep within me resonates with a heart to care for our world.
I think the list could go on and on- great sandwich shops, a top notch Farmer’s Market, and who can beat the view of the Capitol building lit up at night overlooking the city? She’s definitely a knockout. While I’ve only had an Olympia address for two months, I hope that my family and I will put down roots here for a long time. Each passing year will bring more new discoveries and short cuts to find the fastest way to the Westside, but there’s nothing like the first few weeks and the fresh eyes it brings to see a city for the first time. And, from where I’m standing, I like what I see. I like it a lot.
Like many pastors before me, my words four years ago were, "I love my city" and "I have a heart for Olympia." But now, the more I understand the gospel, the object of my love actually has a last name. After all, I have come to discover that this is the nature of the incarnation. Jesus didn't just love the temple, the Jordan River, or the Sea of Galilee. Jesus came loving people. Or as Eugene Peterson so beautifully puts it in the Message, "The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14).
After four years, I'm glad I moved in too.