Wednesday, June 01, 2005

They All Fall Down

Calling D.C. a city in transition is kind of like calling the Middle Passage mildly unpleasant. The local gentry have mounted a full-frontal assault on area real estate, littering the landscape with the shrapnel of cookie cutter, mid-rise, faux-loft shoeboxes. Mind you, I can’t exactly lament the relocation of the transvestite prostitutes, the street corner pharmacists, or the itinerant crack whores of yore. And, I have to admit that I enjoy the new selection of organic and specialty items now available at my grocery store. Still, living just North of downtown, literally on the zoning line that separates the commercial and residential districts, I’m smack dab in the middle of Ground Zero. Free-range poultry and unpronounceable herbs aside, living in a war zone is living in a war zone. But, I’m not here to whine about the evils and indecencies (and conveniences) of gentrification.

My actual point in telling the story lies in one of the earliest casualties of the war. My street dead ends into the side of what was the Washington Convention Center. Or, at least, it used to. The old Center was replaced by the massive new Center, which sits on the other side of my building. The old building sat empty for quite some time and was finally imploded a few months ago. Demolition crews have been pecking away at the rubble ever since. I like to walk while I pray and a prayer walk a couple of weeks ago led me to the demolition site. As I approached the site, I saw something I had never seen before: the amazing view of downtown that the building had obstructed. I stopped my prayer, mid-sentence, to take it all in. God, seizing a rare moment of silence, said, "It’s amazing what you can see when you tear down walls that are no longer serving a purpose."

In His own, God-like way, God had used this wonderful moment of appreciation to remind me of stuff I needed to do. A long time ago, I had built a wall to protect myself from the world outside and the various and sundry dangers thereof. He reminded me that the wall needed to be torn down. Adding insult to irony, the crew had left a single stretch of wall intact, about 75 feet long and 20 feet high. God went on to say that my wall was like this one. The job of tearing it down had been started but never finished and there was still just enough left to make seeing everything on either side of the wall difficult.

God said that at the moment that He created me, he put in me everything that I would need to survive until the day that I got saved. And at the moment that I was recreated, when I got saved, He put in me everything that I would need to live abundantly until the day that Jesus came back. The trick for me, for all of us, is switching from one arsenal to the other.

My wall was part of the old arsenal, and it had served its purpose. And well, I might add. It kept people at a workable distance and kept me safe inside. Without my wall, there’s no way that I could have made it through my childhood, through my adolescence. I owe my sanity and there are several people walking around today who owe their very lives to that wall. I don’t mean to brag, but my wall should really be in the Wall Hall of Fame.

Just the same, like the old Convention Center, my wall had long outlived its usefulness. The new Center was open and regularly teemed with people, milling about one event or another, greedily snatching up treasures that magically turn into junk on the other side of the door, like reverse alchemy. And there were amazing views on either side of the old Center just waiting to be seen. At this point, it was just standing in the way of progress.

Fast-forwarding a week or so, I walked by the demolition site the other day and the wall was gone. My eyes got a little misty and I swore that I heard Taps playing faintly in the background. As it happens, the tears were real, but the Taps was just a homeless guy with emphyzema, who was wheezing and muttering unintelligibly as he rooted through a nearby trash can. So, I took a moment to say a last goodbye to my wall and to the Convention Center. After that, I walked over to the homeless guy and offered him some money. Then, I headed home, looking back only to admire the view.


At 7:13 PM, June 04, 2005, Blogger the God-lovin' atheist said...

ummm. thanks! i guess some truths are self-evident and beautifully so...

At 10:01 PM, June 05, 2005, Blogger joi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:03 PM, June 05, 2005, Blogger joi said...


That is beautiful, I think you should be writer, seriously. I saw this link on Ebony's page, and I've been hooked ever since! I didnt know there was so much to old Dennis! lol

You could be so successful doing this... writing, I mean.
AND, that's so awesome that you chose to share yourself with the world like this! Every time I read a blog, I feel like I'm reading a chapter of a book…a good book at that! lol
So when you start writing those best sellers, autograph one for me! You've already got a fan!

Love ya


At 11:13 PM, June 05, 2005, Blogger The Black Sheep said...

Sometimes, it's the self-evident truths that are hardest to see. But, hey, "better late than never" 'swhat I always say.


At 11:17 PM, June 05, 2005, Blogger The Black Sheep said...

thanks for the words of encouragement. One of these days I'll sit down and put something on paper. I'm looking forward to checking out your blog. Off the subject, I was thinking of you today. I heard a song that would be perfect for you. Lisa McClendon's "You Are Holy". Check it out.

God bless,

At 3:01 PM, June 08, 2005, Blogger the management said...

Dennis you really need to submit your writing to the City Paper, or Essence (You know they have those sections from people who write about their lives. And you know what topic I would suggest you share with millions of black queens all over the Now I know how people feel when they've never heard me sing before. We shall talk. luv ya.


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