This article was originally published by The Mennonite

On the road to Manchester

Posted on 11/01/09 at 07:55 PM

I’m headed north on the M6 to Manchester on the bus. Overhead big puffy clouds are lit by the sun, ridiculously low in the southern sky for noon.

Twenty-four hours ago, we finished our London training with a graduation for eight new Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members. And, just like that, they scattered out and away, back to their homes in Sweden, Germany, Scotland and beyond. We spent a month together building a tight, effective community. And now, in the space of a day, we are dispersed again. We will come together again, undoubtedly, but in different figurations, in different places, with different aims.

Its this way with every training, but this one is different for me. It was a gathering that I dreamed about for years. It brought together two major community streams in my life: London Mennonites and CPT. It brought both closure and new beginnings. The space the training occupied in my mind has been freed up, like a gravity well disappearing from a star system.

Above me, the clouds have moved off, leaving only blue sky with wisps here and there. On the horizon, the cumulous cluster together and gleam white in the sun, casting long shadows that make it feel like late afternoon rather then half past noon. I am in The North.

Signs flash by for Cheadle Royal, Didsbury, Leeds, Sheffield, Wythenshawe, Northendon. And the first apartment blocks of Manchester begin to rise, the trees increasingly confined to the road’s edge. And now we pass the official welcome sign:  The City of Manchester, its M decorated with rainbow lines from the late ’80s.

A city edge cemetary slides by with white, black and grey stones glowing in the sun. The cemetary gives way to sports fields, with 24 football pitches all lined up, brightly colored players rushing back and forth in a great hurry. Hough End Playing Fields says the sign. The office towers of downtown Manchester are visible for the first time and then disappear again behind the red stone town houses.

Orange leaves swirl across the street ahead, like butterflies chasing each other and dancing across the median and nesting beside the curb’s edge. The downtown skyscrapers appear again, this time for good, differentiating into steeples, mirrored glass and steel. Each with its own flavor, caught halfway between ugly and sublime.

God is good.

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