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Being Formed as We Journey from Place to Place

I was born in the same farmhouse (boerderij) as my father, within a few kilometers of where my ancestors in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, have lived and died for generations. Within those same few kilometers, my mother was born and raised on a farm owned for generations by her father’s family. I distinctly remember returning as a young adult and visiting the church yard, reading the gravestones with a new sense of rootedness and connection with my ancestors who had struggled, lived, and died on the land in this corner of the world.

Yet I did not grow up in the place of my ancestors. Like so many others, our family emigrated to the United States and began a new life in another country. Despite deep family rootedness and a love of all things Frisian, we joined the waves of immigrants who have left their homeland for another land. We lived rather nomadic lives in those early years, looking for that place to call home.

Years later, when I chose to follow God’s call into a vibrant yet struggling immigrant community in central Los Angeles, it took me a few years before I called my neighborhood home. What began as a few years somehow grew to three decades, far longer than I had lived anywhere. I heeded the mandate of Jeremiah 29 to plant myself in my neighborhood (see the sidebar from Mary Glenn on p. 41 for more on this mandate). My neighbors were Central Americans who had migrated to LA out of desperation to escape the violence and terror of civil wars. Listening to the stories of why they left, it became increasingly clear that not everyone leaves the place they call home for a better life. Some leave so they can simply live.

These were life-transforming years, growing in what Father Greg Boyle calls the “exquisite mutuality” of sharing life together.1  When I first moved to my neighborhood, few had heard of this seemingly forgotten place. We lived under the radar of the city and the media. In an area of apartments with 99 percent renters, it did not take long to become a local among other newcomers. Our neighborhood had been recreated various times over the years, with little attention to the history of who had been there before. LA as a city seemed not to take place seriously, or the memories and stories tied to place—what one author names the “erasure of memory” in the land of forgetting.2 During this season of putting down roots and making a home in the city, Philip Sheldrake became my guide, with his work on the spirituality of cities:

Our environments are active partners in the conversation between location and the geographies of the mind and spirit that create “place.” Place involves human narrative and memory, which are embedded in a location, including deeper narrative currents that absorb the stories of all who have lived there. It is therefore appropriate to think of places as texts, layered with meaning. A hermeneutics of place continually reveals new interpretations in the interplay between physical environment, memory, and specific people at a particular moment.3

My Latinx neighbors, in contrast to the prevailing LA hermeneutic, came with their own sense of place, their own narratives, and a way of using space that contributed to shared stories and a sense of community:
a sidewalk became a swap meet and a small piece of grass became the park where parties were hosted, simple pleasures that led to deep connection and a sense of belonging together. A neighborhood that majored in mom and pop shops also meant a richness of third spaces, which can be what Sheldrake refers to as active partners between narrative and place.

A Hermeneutic of Third Places 

Many of us have had the experience of eating at a chain restaurant halfway around the world and wondering, “Where am I?” Once, we were in Caracas, Venezuela, in a Chili’s restaurant that could have been in Chicago or Los Angeles. I have come to think of these places, with nondescript décor and no connection to their location, as “nowhere”—because they could be anywhere.4 Lacking any connection to local history, architecture, or culture, one could move it to another city and it would be equally in place and out of place.

In the land of LA strip malls, my husband John and I were on the lookout for places that are somewhere, rather than nowhere, connected to the neighborhoods. These third places, named “great good places” by Ray Oldenburg,5 land somewhere between public and private places. Whether they are coffee shops, community centers, barber shops, or hangouts, these are places where even strangers feel at home. Oldenburg describes great good places as “informal gathering places that relieve the stress of life, where people go to relax and meet friends or make new ones.” He goes on to say, “Where these do not exist, we see leisure giving way to ever-increasing consumption.” Great good places are neutral gathering spots where no one has to be the host, people are drawn together who wouldn’t normally be together, and everyone is equally welcome.

Our local donut shop was just such a location. Anchored on the corner of a strip mall, owned by one of the many Cambodians who run donut shops in the LA area, “the Donut” had been an inclusive gathering spot for many years. Soccer players, moms doing their laundry at the other end of the strip mall, and those who slept in vans and came in for morning coffee were all equally welcome. Ralph, a Third Order Franciscan, came there with his prayer book, finding it a place he could settle and pray. The Pentecostal church just down the hill prayed regularly for all who spent time at the Donut. This great good place was an anchor for a neighborhood of many transitions.

How Place Forms Us

Ralph inspired me, praying at our noisy donut shop. Growing up on a farm in the countryside, not far from the Sierra Nevada mountains, I’d always been drawn to places of natural beauty. Now I found myself in the built environment with little green space. My experience of God had happened in natural places. Would it be possible to be rooted in this place, to learn new ways of making connections, finding home, and meeting God? Thus began my 30-year journey toward becoming an urban contemplative, seeking God and his ways in urban terrain. The natural rhythms of my upbringing gave way to the urban sounds of a city that never sleeps. Eventually, the city where I first struggled to encounter God became the place of my deepest encounters.

We are formed by God, pilgrims on a journey, but our formation takes place in a specific context. Just as Jesus was born a Jew in a time and place, we too are born into a specific location. Our formation is deeply impacted by our context, both the physical location and our social location. Over time, the lack of contextual references in most spiritual formation literature became a glaring omission to me, underscoring the lack of diversity in the authors published in this field. My move to the city highlighted how much my urban neighborhood, both the place and its people, impacted my relationship with God, personally and communally. I had to learn new ways of encountering God in this immersive new environment. I began to see how much place impacts what I see, hear, think, feel, and do, and thus impacts my formation. I sought out a spiritual director who helped me be attentive to my environment and the ways God is present (I now recognize the practice she taught me as the Examen).

Fortunately, I was not on this journey alone. InnerChange,6 the missional and ecumenical order that I am part of, was asking the same questions as we planted ourselves in urban neighborhoods. Creating new rhythms is best done as a shared journey, not a solo one. We came to adopt Micah 6:8 as our charism. The call to do justice and love mercy was everywhere, but we came to see that if we wanted compassion sustained for the long haul, walking humbly with God had to be at the center of our lives as well, both personally and corporately. What might a “contemplation of the streets”7 look like, meeting God on the pathways of our neighborhoods?

The early ammas and abbas relocated to the desert for a deeper encounter with God. Might it be possible, as Carlo Carretto suggests in Desert in the City,8 to find that encounter in urban places, not only in the desert? Praying in a prayer cell or praying on the streets of LA, we pray to the same God, but our prayers are impacted by our location. I began to see the city as my cell, my place to go deeper in prayer and intimacy with God, leading to deeper ways to live missionally in my context.

Much of the spiritual formation literature reminds us of our need for silence. Even Mother Teresa, headquartered in the cacophony that is Calcutta, tells us that we need silence. God is a God of silence, and our words are deeper when they come out of silence rather than noise. Yet during those early years in LA, I learned that God also speaks through noise. What might a spirituality of noise look like? How do we get beyond shutting out noise in order to pray, to allowing the noise to draw us closer to God and others? I learned to use the many sirens and police helicopters as a call to prayer. My walks became prayer walks, beholding God around me as well as praying for those I saw. If silence is a requirement for encountering God, then millions of urbanites would be excluded. Stillness of heart is not dependent on silence and can be found amidst the noise around us.

Liturgical prayer and the church calendar drew me in with its communal daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms. Morning, noon, and evening prayer create a new rhythm in a 24/7 world. Like Ralph, I too began taking my prayer book to the donut shop and other locations. As I began to read Scripture in unexpected locations, I stumbled upon the practice that Lauren Winner calls “dislocated exegesis.”9 Engaging Scripture in context reminded me that even though our area was marginal to the power structures, it was central to the heart of God. Reading Psalm 84 about the dwelling place of God while at the Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is meaningful and feels somehow appropriate. Reading Psalm 84 in my immigrant neighborhoods is a reminder that God dwells in places we prefer to ignore, that the sacred dwells outside the cathedral walls.

Orlando Costas refers to this as Christ being crucified outside the gates of the city. Already in 1982, Costas was calling our attention to the placement of mission.10 How does our understanding of mission change if we move outside the gate, to the periphery of society where the poor and marginalized are located? Placement matters as we read Scripture and as we live into God’s mission in the world. When we are placed in mission, we are daily reminded that our life with God is not to be lived for ourselves only, but our lives and spiritual practices are to be embedded in the world for the sake of the world around us.

Imagining the Future in Pomona

Each person effectively reshapes a place by making his or her story a thread in the meaning of a place and also has to come to terms with the many layers of story that already exist in a given location.11

Moving this past year from central Los Angeles 30 miles east to Pomona, at the edge of LA County, has caused me to once again ponder the role of place. What might a hermeneutic of place reveal in my new home? How will the threads of the tapestry of our lives interface with our new place? Our 1947 two-bedroom cottage on Old Settler’s Lane is situated between two historic homes. These two adobes were built in 1837 and 1840, during the California land grant era. La Casa Primera is owned by the Pomona Historical Society as a way to remember the history here. Evidence of the Pomona Valley citrus boom of the early 1900s is also present in the neighborhood’s majestic grove homes and citrus trees in many backyards.

My mind also wanders to the layers of history that are not so easily seen. Native American tribes lived here for thousands of years before these historic adobes were built.12 Walking in this neighborhood, now becoming home, I have developed a habit of acknowledging the indigenous inhabitants who nurtured this land long before my arrival. I grieve at the injustice buried in the soil. As I walk I ask God, what stories does this land carry? What blood was shed, what joys were shared, and what tears were cried? How do we honor those who have been here before us? Our local park, with San Jose Creek running through it, was once a campsite for the Tongva. I am reminded of the ways displacement leaves scars on the places we inhabit. (Still, there is a release in my soul, now that I have moved. Yes, there is more space here. But I also do not struggle daily with the constant assault of displacement that had become my neighborhood in LA.)

The journey from LA to Pomona helped me see that while God uses place to form us, God also forms us as we journey from place to place. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything: a time to live and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Likewise, there is a time to be rooted in a place and a time to uproot for a new place. I look forward to discovering, with and from my new neighbors, the memories and stories embedded in this place. Pomona has its stories of land being conquered and exploited, but there are also efforts toward restoration. Our local park features wood carvings dedicated to remembering the presence of the local tribes that once flourished here, and whose descendants still live locally. Dead redwood trees have been carved into the forms of animals that are sacred to the indigenous peoples as a way to remember the past and honor the present.

What would it mean to restore the places where we are called to live? The biblical narrative moves us toward restoration. Too often we have seen this restoration in terms of people, and not the places inhabited by those same people. God’s vision in Isaiah 65 includes restoration of all of creation.

As we envision the future together, may the Isaiah 65 vision of restoration be our inspiration:

“For I am about to create new heavens
    and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
    or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
    and its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be
    heard in it,
    or the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old person who does not live out a
          lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be
    considered a youth,
    and one who falls short of a hundred will
          be considered accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their
           fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of
    my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work
          of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain,
    or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the
    Lord—
    and their descendants as well.

Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
    but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Isaiah 65:17–25

Written By

Jude Tiersma Watson has lived and worked in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of central Los Angeles for 30 years as a member of InnerCHANGE, a Christian Order Among the Poor. The neighborhood and ministry have changed over the years, but one thing remains: God’s desire for us to live lives of worship and joy as we share life with our neighbors. She is an associate professor of urban mission in the School of Intercultural Studies. A key interest for her is the impact of the urban context on our spiritual formation. Jude and her husband recently moved to Pomona, California.

“My social location as I write this piece is as an educated, privileged immigrant of Dutch descent, struggling to listen to, learn from, and be changed by stories and places that are not my own.”

—Jude Tiersma Watson

I was born in the same farmhouse (boerderij) as my father, within a few kilometers of where my ancestors in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, have lived and died for generations. Within those same few kilometers, my mother was born and raised on a farm owned for generations by her father’s family. I distinctly remember returning as a young adult and visiting the church yard, reading the gravestones with a new sense of rootedness and connection with my ancestors who had struggled, lived, and died on the land in this corner of the world.

Yet I did not grow up in the place of my ancestors. Like so many others, our family emigrated to the United States and began a new life in another country. Despite deep family rootedness and a love of all things Frisian, we joined the waves of immigrants who have left their homeland for another land. We lived rather nomadic lives in those early years, looking for that place to call home.

Years later, when I chose to follow God’s call into a vibrant yet struggling immigrant community in central Los Angeles, it took me a few years before I called my neighborhood home. What began as a few years somehow grew to three decades, far longer than I had lived anywhere. I heeded the mandate of Jeremiah 29 to plant myself in my neighborhood (see the sidebar from Mary Glenn on p. 41 for more on this mandate). My neighbors were Central Americans who had migrated to LA out of desperation to escape the violence and terror of civil wars. Listening to the stories of why they left, it became increasingly clear that not everyone leaves the place they call home for a better life. Some leave so they can simply live.

These were life-transforming years, growing in what Father Greg Boyle calls the “exquisite mutuality” of sharing life together.1  When I first moved to my neighborhood, few had heard of this seemingly forgotten place. We lived under the radar of the city and the media. In an area of apartments with 99 percent renters, it did not take long to become a local among other newcomers. Our neighborhood had been recreated various times over the years, with little attention to the history of who had been there before. LA as a city seemed not to take place seriously, or the memories and stories tied to place—what one author names the “erasure of memory” in the land of forgetting.2 During this season of putting down roots and making a home in the city, Philip Sheldrake became my guide, with his work on the spirituality of cities:

Our environments are active partners in the conversation between location and the geographies of the mind and spirit that create “place.” Place involves human narrative and memory, which are embedded in a location, including deeper narrative currents that absorb the stories of all who have lived there. It is therefore appropriate to think of places as texts, layered with meaning. A hermeneutics of place continually reveals new interpretations in the interplay between physical environment, memory, and specific people at a particular moment.3

My Latinx neighbors, in contrast to the prevailing LA hermeneutic, came with their own sense of place, their own narratives, and a way of using space that contributed to shared stories and a sense of community:
a sidewalk became a swap meet and a small piece of grass became the park where parties were hosted, simple pleasures that led to deep connection and a sense of belonging together. A neighborhood that majored in mom and pop shops also meant a richness of third spaces, which can be what Sheldrake refers to as active partners between narrative and place.

A Hermeneutic of Third Places 

Many of us have had the experience of eating at a chain restaurant halfway around the world and wondering, “Where am I?” Once, we were in Caracas, Venezuela, in a Chili’s restaurant that could have been in Chicago or Los Angeles. I have come to think of these places, with nondescript décor and no connection to their location, as “nowhere”—because they could be anywhere.4 Lacking any connection to local history, architecture, or culture, one could move it to another city and it would be equally in place and out of place.

In the land of LA strip malls, my husband John and I were on the lookout for places that are somewhere, rather than nowhere, connected to the neighborhoods. These third places, named “great good places” by Ray Oldenburg,5 land somewhere between public and private places. Whether they are coffee shops, community centers, barber shops, or hangouts, these are places where even strangers feel at home. Oldenburg describes great good places as “informal gathering places that relieve the stress of life, where people go to relax and meet friends or make new ones.” He goes on to say, “Where these do not exist, we see leisure giving way to ever-increasing consumption.” Great good places are neutral gathering spots where no one has to be the host, people are drawn together who wouldn’t normally be together, and everyone is equally welcome.

Our local donut shop was just such a location. Anchored on the corner of a strip mall, owned by one of the many Cambodians who run donut shops in the LA area, “the Donut” had been an inclusive gathering spot for many years. Soccer players, moms doing their laundry at the other end of the strip mall, and those who slept in vans and came in for morning coffee were all equally welcome. Ralph, a Third Order Franciscan, came there with his prayer book, finding it a place he could settle and pray. The Pentecostal church just down the hill prayed regularly for all who spent time at the Donut. This great good place was an anchor for a neighborhood of many transitions.

How Place Forms Us

Ralph inspired me, praying at our noisy donut shop. Growing up on a farm in the countryside, not far from the Sierra Nevada mountains, I’d always been drawn to places of natural beauty. Now I found myself in the built environment with little green space. My experience of God had happened in natural places. Would it be possible to be rooted in this place, to learn new ways of making connections, finding home, and meeting God? Thus began my 30-year journey toward becoming an urban contemplative, seeking God and his ways in urban terrain. The natural rhythms of my upbringing gave way to the urban sounds of a city that never sleeps. Eventually, the city where I first struggled to encounter God became the place of my deepest encounters.

We are formed by God, pilgrims on a journey, but our formation takes place in a specific context. Just as Jesus was born a Jew in a time and place, we too are born into a specific location. Our formation is deeply impacted by our context, both the physical location and our social location. Over time, the lack of contextual references in most spiritual formation literature became a glaring omission to me, underscoring the lack of diversity in the authors published in this field. My move to the city highlighted how much my urban neighborhood, both the place and its people, impacted my relationship with God, personally and communally. I had to learn new ways of encountering God in this immersive new environment. I began to see how much place impacts what I see, hear, think, feel, and do, and thus impacts my formation. I sought out a spiritual director who helped me be attentive to my environment and the ways God is present (I now recognize the practice she taught me as the Examen).

Fortunately, I was not on this journey alone. InnerChange,6 the missional and ecumenical order that I am part of, was asking the same questions as we planted ourselves in urban neighborhoods. Creating new rhythms is best done as a shared journey, not a solo one. We came to adopt Micah 6:8 as our charism. The call to do justice and love mercy was everywhere, but we came to see that if we wanted compassion sustained for the long haul, walking humbly with God had to be at the center of our lives as well, both personally and corporately. What might a “contemplation of the streets”7 look like, meeting God on the pathways of our neighborhoods?

The early ammas and abbas relocated to the desert for a deeper encounter with God. Might it be possible, as Carlo Carretto suggests in Desert in the City,8 to find that encounter in urban places, not only in the desert? Praying in a prayer cell or praying on the streets of LA, we pray to the same God, but our prayers are impacted by our location. I began to see the city as my cell, my place to go deeper in prayer and intimacy with God, leading to deeper ways to live missionally in my context.

Much of the spiritual formation literature reminds us of our need for silence. Even Mother Teresa, headquartered in the cacophony that is Calcutta, tells us that we need silence. God is a God of silence, and our words are deeper when they come out of silence rather than noise. Yet during those early years in LA, I learned that God also speaks through noise. What might a spirituality of noise look like? How do we get beyond shutting out noise in order to pray, to allowing the noise to draw us closer to God and others? I learned to use the many sirens and police helicopters as a call to prayer. My walks became prayer walks, beholding God around me as well as praying for those I saw. If silence is a requirement for encountering God, then millions of urbanites would be excluded. Stillness of heart is not dependent on silence and can be found amidst the noise around us.

Liturgical prayer and the church calendar drew me in with its communal daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms. Morning, noon, and evening prayer create a new rhythm in a 24/7 world. Like Ralph, I too began taking my prayer book to the donut shop and other locations. As I began to read Scripture in unexpected locations, I stumbled upon the practice that Lauren Winner calls “dislocated exegesis.”9 Engaging Scripture in context reminded me that even though our area was marginal to the power structures, it was central to the heart of God. Reading Psalm 84 about the dwelling place of God while at the Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is meaningful and feels somehow appropriate. Reading Psalm 84 in my immigrant neighborhoods is a reminder that God dwells in places we prefer to ignore, that the sacred dwells outside the cathedral walls.

Orlando Costas refers to this as Christ being crucified outside the gates of the city. Already in 1982, Costas was calling our attention to the placement of mission.10 How does our understanding of mission change if we move outside the gate, to the periphery of society where the poor and marginalized are located? Placement matters as we read Scripture and as we live into God’s mission in the world. When we are placed in mission, we are daily reminded that our life with God is not to be lived for ourselves only, but our lives and spiritual practices are to be embedded in the world for the sake of the world around us.

Imagining the Future in Pomona

Each person effectively reshapes a place by making his or her story a thread in the meaning of a place and also has to come to terms with the many layers of story that already exist in a given location.11

Moving this past year from central Los Angeles 30 miles east to Pomona, at the edge of LA County, has caused me to once again ponder the role of place. What might a hermeneutic of place reveal in my new home? How will the threads of the tapestry of our lives interface with our new place? Our 1947 two-bedroom cottage on Old Settler’s Lane is situated between two historic homes. These two adobes were built in 1837 and 1840, during the California land grant era. La Casa Primera is owned by the Pomona Historical Society as a way to remember the history here. Evidence of the Pomona Valley citrus boom of the early 1900s is also present in the neighborhood’s majestic grove homes and citrus trees in many backyards.

My mind also wanders to the layers of history that are not so easily seen. Native American tribes lived here for thousands of years before these historic adobes were built.12 Walking in this neighborhood, now becoming home, I have developed a habit of acknowledging the indigenous inhabitants who nurtured this land long before my arrival. I grieve at the injustice buried in the soil. As I walk I ask God, what stories does this land carry? What blood was shed, what joys were shared, and what tears were cried? How do we honor those who have been here before us? Our local park, with San Jose Creek running through it, was once a campsite for the Tongva. I am reminded of the ways displacement leaves scars on the places we inhabit. (Still, there is a release in my soul, now that I have moved. Yes, there is more space here. But I also do not struggle daily with the constant assault of displacement that had become my neighborhood in LA.)

The journey from LA to Pomona helped me see that while God uses place to form us, God also forms us as we journey from place to place. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything: a time to live and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Likewise, there is a time to be rooted in a place and a time to uproot for a new place. I look forward to discovering, with and from my new neighbors, the memories and stories embedded in this place. Pomona has its stories of land being conquered and exploited, but there are also efforts toward restoration. Our local park features wood carvings dedicated to remembering the presence of the local tribes that once flourished here, and whose descendants still live locally. Dead redwood trees have been carved into the forms of animals that are sacred to the indigenous peoples as a way to remember the past and honor the present.

What would it mean to restore the places where we are called to live? The biblical narrative moves us toward restoration. Too often we have seen this restoration in terms of people, and not the places inhabited by those same people. God’s vision in Isaiah 65 includes restoration of all of creation.

As we envision the future together, may the Isaiah 65 vision of restoration be our inspiration:

“For I am about to create new heavens
    and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
    or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever
    in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
    and its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
    and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be
    heard in it,
    or the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old person who does not live out a
          lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be
    considered a youth,
    and one who falls short of a hundred will
          be considered accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their
           fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of
    my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work
          of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain,
    or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the
    Lord—
    and their descendants as well.

Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
    but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

Isaiah 65:17–25

Jude Tiersma Watson

Jude Tiersma Watson has lived and worked in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of central Los Angeles for 30 years as a member of InnerCHANGE, a Christian Order Among the Poor. The neighborhood and ministry have changed over the years, but one thing remains: God’s desire for us to live lives of worship and joy as we share life with our neighbors. She is an associate professor of urban mission in the School of Intercultural Studies. A key interest for her is the impact of the urban context on our spiritual formation. Jude and her husband recently moved to Pomona, California.

“My social location as I write this piece is as an educated, privileged immigrant of Dutch descent, struggling to listen to, learn from, and be changed by stories and places that are not my own.”

—Jude Tiersma Watson

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Mary Glenn considers Jeremiah 29 as way to think about place.