Access - Dwelling Spaces

Tuesday, 1 March 2016


Trinity College is in quite a wealthy area of Bristol, and when I first arrive and started prayer walking around the roads nearby I felt quite shocked and sad about the number of houses shut behind gates. Whilst I hoped people were just away, the last couple of years it has been the case that many of the gates remain shut for much of the time. We live in a society that doesn't really know anymore what it's like to live in close proximity as family or community. I wonder in how many countries it's the norm even for parents and children to sleep in separate rooms? When I visited migrant workers in their homes in Washington State USA it was common for one or two families, up to 20 people in total, to be in one 'house' about the size of the downstairs area of my house. And yet they were so kind and welcoming and made space for us to come and sit. They knew what it was like to be connected to people.

Lack of proximity to others drives fear. We don't understand those 'other' people because we don't share life in any way. I saw this in Israel with the very strict separation of the lives of Jewish and Palestinian people. They never get to chance to meet as people with common social interests, it's no wonder then that misunderstanding and divisive rhetoric leads to growing fear which becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. So I have been praying as I walk that the gates would be opened and that people would give others access into their lives. That intense loneliness that marks communities like this would be transformed into connected lives and stronger community. That the desire to protect ourselves doesn't become so strong that we end up hurting ourselves because we can't let anyone else in.

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