Baltimore. A city of beauty and grit.
I just returned from an overnight mission trip to Baltimore with a group of eighth graders from our church. Our trip was coordinated through The Center, a place that hosts church groups and connects them to local communities for a hands on experience where compassion meets justice.
Things I knew about Baltimore before hitting the road:
- Hairspray, the musical
- It’s close to Washington DC
- It has an aquarium
- There were riots and police violence recently
Y’all thats embarrassing and doesn’t even do this city justice. I was only there a day. A day. I don’t feel qualified to speak on the subject. Forgive my ignorance and limited experience Baltimoreans.
We spent our day in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, the area Freddie Gray was from and was arrested. In the morning we did odd jobs at the Jubilee Arts Center preparing the gallery for a future show, organizing supplies, and cleaning. Jubilee Arts Center a non-profit “is a catalyst for social change, using art as a tool for empowerment, community building, learning our history and changing our future.” It’s an incredible space. It is a multipurpose building sharing spaces for art classes, studio, and dance class. These are offered to all ages at an accessible rate for the community.
We then moved out to a recently updated water fountain in an open air park. The Jubilee Arts Center worked with the community to clean the area and install hand made tiles to the edges of the fountain. Only one of their neighborhood beautification projects. We cleaned the bushes of needles, trash, and weeds. As we walked around I was struck by the large neon yellow foot prints along the sidewalk. They are safe passage for school children to follow to the nearest elementary school. Friends, this isn’t a life I know about.
I am disappointed in my lack of awareness at the level of poverty and disparity in our backyard. I know it has to happen near all the places I’ve lived, but the rows of vacant crumbling town homes in Sandtown left me feeling empty. How can I live near this and not be destroyed and called to action? My new favorite word is curious. I want to be curious about what God is calling me to do. How he is calling me to live? What is His heart breaking for that I am blind to? How can I use the gifts I’ve been given to be His hands and feet?
For now I had my camera. I look back over these photos and see such beauty amongst the grit. The hard work. The people who live and work in Baltimore. Who love their city and it’s people. As these trials begin in the Freddie Grey hearings let us remember these are people, God’s children who are hurting and need justice.
Love y’all –