On December 31st a United moving van will pull into Dunnington Circle and stop at our driveway. By the time the New Year’s ball drops in Times Square later that night, the contents of our house will be on their way to a holding facility somewhere in North Carolina (at some point Tim and I should probably ask where, exactly, in NC), where they will remain for the next four to six months while we get to know our new home city of Washington, D.C. It just feels so right to me that our new adventure should begin on the very first day of a brand new year. I love new beginnings!
As we prepare to take our leave of this great Southern city, here are ten Atlanta features that I’m definitely going to miss:
1. First Baptist Church of Decatur
I love this gifted, welcoming, risk-taking, gospel-focused, Christ-embodying congregation more than I know how to express. It was an honor to walk alongside them for eight years.
2. Living Near Mom
For twenty-five years, my mother and I lived between 1,100 and 3,000 miles from each other. In 2008 she moved from her long-time home in Orlando to a sweet little house just two miles from our place in Atlanta. Having her nearby has been such a treat. Mom volunteered in our church office, tutored Lucy in middle-school, provided transportation for Taylor, showed up at our door with countless home cooked meals and dog-sat for the dear departed Willie Boy. Mostly, it’s just been a comfort having the wonderful Barbara Pennington in my life on a daily basis. Pray for my mama who is embarking on an adventure of her own as she prepares to move back to her old stomping grounds in Florida.
3. The DeKalb Farmers Market
Got a hankering for the taste of dirty gym socks? Look no further than the DFM for a Durian fruit. Or maybe a Horned Melon, Mexican Pitaya or Buddha’s Hand. Don’t panic, they also sell broccoli and bananas. But it’s the exotic stuff that sets them apart—that, and the global community working and shopping there. On my first visit, back in 2007, I stood in the check-out line behind an ancient black woman with tattooed arms and long braids down her back, wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt and reading Jean-Paul Sartre. I knew I’d be coming back.
4. Stone Mountain
Climbing Stone Mountain expands my soul and kicks my tail—every. single. time. (Read here about my experience of climbing the mountain 50 times in 2010.)
5. Community Q BBQ Mac & Cheese
Mouth-watering, diet-busting heaven on a plate.
6. Wild Oats & Billy Goats
An eclectic little folk art gallery across from Decatur Square became my guilty pleasure while I served at First Baptist. Whenever I needed a break from the office I’d spend 20 minutes rummaging around Wild Oats & Billy Goats, feeling completely restored afterwards. Tim gave me this cow for Christmas in 2014, painted by Sandy Erickson Wright. I’ve dubbed it “the face of kindness”.
7. The City of Decatur
“Mayberry meets Berkeley” sums it up perfectly. I’ve loved being surrounded by this progressive, compassionate, mishmash of humans.
8. My Clergy Peer Groups
I’ve been part of two groups. My interfaith clergy peer group met mostly on the picket line. We rallied together around issues of gun violence, Medicaid expansion, living wages for migrant farm workers and religious liberty. These rabbis, imams, priests and pastors inspired me more than they can possibly know.
My Baptist pastor peer group met every month at McAfee School of Theology. We mostly held the ropes for one another and prayed each other through the ups and downs of church life. Once, during a particularly difficult time at my own church, my peer group delivered to my office a bottle of bourbon named for the 17th century Baptist preacher Reverend Elijah Craig. I can report that Rev. Craig ministered faithfully to Tim and me for several months.
9. Siggers Hairdressers
I have thin, limp, potato-colored hair. Chad Siggers makes it appear less so. Gracias, Chad.
10. Black Bear Mountain
Okay, this one’s not in Atlanta. But this mountain retreat just two hours north of the ATL has been a sacred place for Tim and me for six years—thanks to our dear, generous friends, Chuck and Bob.
Thanks for the memories, Atlanta! We’re glad to have known you. Grace and peace, y’all…