Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spirit's unexpected opening

[Recording located at end of post]
Monday, as I was working in my studio, trying to write, a group thundered through the stairwell, collecting just outside my door, which was open. Not wanting to seem rude, I let it go and feigned busyness. It was hard to write with the clatter, then hard not to eavesdrop as the dozen or so, all white men and two women, one I recognized as a college student, chatted about the future of Milford Main School. My future, I understood.

They were talking about it as if it were a piece of property, which, of course, it is. The Milford School District has been attempting to figure out what to do with this white elephant for a long time. I am certain the November defeat of an operating levy brings it to the front burner.

Gutting it and leaving its few redeeming architectural details for a developer was one scenario. Public auction, another. Moving administrative offices here and selling Milford South was suggested. Several recommended marketing it to prospective buyers as senior housing since several local communities maintain waiting lists. I’m pretty certain city officials were in attendance, but I did not hear a peep as to any intention of taking it over. Rumor has it the district has unsuccessfully tried giving it away for $1.

Someone who sounded knowledgeable about renovation said this building was a piece of cake compared to work on similar structures in Over-the-Rhine. That was encouraging. Someone else offered a two-sided elevator could be installed for less than $150,000 and meet ADA restrictions.

I peeked out and noticed Merydith, a Miami senior re-developing Milford Main for her senior architecture project. Bet she wasn’t s crazy about what she was hearing, either.

They did introduce her and solicited her opinion. She responded that, obviously, what she was proposing would cost a lot. She was very diplomatic, but in her heart of hearts, I know she was disappointed.

When she finished, it seemed like my chance to chime in: now or never. I explained that I ran an arts program for local, at-risk kids through Quaker grants*, one from the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board and had just applied for another from ArtsWave, the former Fine Arts Fund. There were sighs of recognition. I told them ArtsWave was excited about the possibility of a Milford arts center at Main, that they had been seeking another Clermont County presence. I revealed that I had done preliminary exploration and found a National Endowment for the Arts grant for “creative placemaking” collecting private, public, non-profit and community partners to shape the local social character around arts and cultural activities that animate, rejuvenate, improve the economy and gather diverse people.

What a dream!

Milford Main is just that bridge, connecting all of the above as well as Milford neighborhoods and retail districts. The key, it seems, is partnerships and someone or institution willing to take on ownership. Responsibility is what this committee seems to want the district to divest itself of.

I am grateful for the opportunity and felt listened to. As I inched myself out, I spied the superintendent and said hello. He has always been a good listener, from his first weeks on the job, when he held community-engagement meetings and introduced himself simple as “Bob,” offering his hand and treating me as if I mattered.

The district has been doing a lot of listening since the narrow loss of the levy. More public sessions and a survey, asking residents what cuts they would make. I believe it’ the smartest thing they could have done, given the circumstance, because it forced participants to feel their pain at what should go and what stay.

I also told this group that I thought they’d meet more public resistance to ridding themselves of Main than perceived. “People that voted against the levy aren’t gonna want to pay for Main,” one remarked

I beg to differ because it’s just those people, older, retired and on fixed incomes, who remember and love Main. They could truly benefit from some type of community cultural center.

And, I don’t relish moving Artsy Fartsy, let alone my studio, anywhere else, though it’s already been offered a home in a nearby church.

I feel Spirit gave me an opening and now tells me to wait – patiently, which isn’t so easy. I must trust, just as I did to get a studio in Milford Main in the first place!

• When have I been offered an unexpected opportunity at Spirit’s urging?
• Could it still hold a spiritual dimension even if in a worldly venue?
• How do I discern Spirit’s leadings?
• What happens when I can?
• When I don’t?

blissfully minding
my own business

when rudely

to something
I did not want
to know

it was

until my blood
boiled and my
heart pounded

much like when
I have ministry
in worship

and I knew
this was my

a gift
from Spirit

amid the suits
of business

and still, I felt
my voice was heard

* Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment 

Good News Associates grant

Listen to this post:


  1. The Spirit is always at work and works in surprising ways. It is a thrill when we recognize this work going on in our experience and we have the courage and wisdom to follow Spirit's lead! Patience isn't mere waiting. Patience is trusting that Spirit will accomplish its plan on its schedule.

  2. Yes, I am certain Spirit is always at work – I just don't recognize it. Grateful when I do. I love the idea of waiting as patience and trusting. I realize I often want my agenda and my schedule fulfilled, however, Spirit's is always so much better and worth waiting for when I do. Thank you, Colin.