The Living Room

I’m sitting in a cabin at the Estes Park Center of the YMCA of the Rockies. Jen is getting ready for bed, the kids are hanging out with some new friends. I’m struck by the satisfaction I feel in the stillness of this moment. Far away is the frenetic pace of the city life we have chosen for ourselves. I am surrounded by the calming sound of…nothing.

As we strolled along the Riverwalk downtown yesterday (the one here in Estes Park, not back at home in San Antonio), we came across a storefront called “Riverplace: a Community Living Room.” My curiosity did not allow me to just walk by. When we walked inside, it was indeed a living room. Harvey greeted me and when I asked what Riverplace was all about, he said it is a place where people can come, have a cup of coffee, read a book, have a conversation…whatever they want. Riverplace isn’t selling anything and they don’t ask anything of its visitors. I was intrigued. Nestled right in the middle of the business district of this quiet little mountainside town is a place where people come to just hang out.

Harvey, like the rest of the sixty or so people who serve at Riverplace, volunteers his time to sit inside the living room. I asked him why he did that. I found out that four years ago, Harvey almost died. He had contracted the same virus that killed Jim Henson. He told me he should not be sitting across from me telling me how he survived his virus. But, since God had blessed him, he felt the least he could do was give some time each week to listen to what a passing stranger might want to talk about.

Harvey was gracious enough to let me capture some of our conversation. I posted it on facebook here. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a few minutes to check it out.

I also found out that Riverplace is connected to Rocky Mountain Church. Everything from the furniture to the freshly baked goods was donated to the facility. They have a great relationship with the business owners that surround them. They are simply a quiet presence, a beacon of radical acceptance, authentic love and insane generosity in the middle of downtown Estes Park.

It occurs to me that so many times we want more of a Chuck Norris, kickin’ butt and takin’ names kind of God. I’m not sure why we do that. When Jesus came on the scene, a lot of people had those kinds of expectations of a Messiah. Jesus sort of took those assumptions and turned them on their head. His strength and influence came not in the force of His personality, but in the power of His presence.

Maybe we need more people like Harvey who are content to be a simple, quiet presence in the Movement. It may not be Chuck Norris, but I have a feeling the impact is just as significant. Maybe even greater.

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