I've always been right on the edge of straight edge. I didn't drink until after I was 21 or smoke weed til much later than that. I've never smoked cigarettes or cigars and I avoid all kinds of drugs and foreign substances other than food and water. This generally includes caffeine, prescription medications and high fructose corn syrup as well.

Still, I was sure that when Mike, one of my friends and mentors at TGC Washington Heights, suggested I was an "edge piece" in the community, this was not what he had in mind.

He first mentioned it in December last year, hoping to keep me in the Heights for the foreseeable future. He explained that the church community counted on me, they needed my voice and vision for the church and for the neighborhood. 

Nobody in my life - in church or otherwise - had ever expressed this need to me. That is, the need of... me - who I am and what I bring to the table (freegan food, haha!). I was flattered and stunned. And I also understood the need of community in my own life, as I'd experienced the reciprocal void over the course of my Zombie Music Tour (from which I had just returned). Still, I was already planning to head to Florida for the holidays and hoping to hit the road again in the spring. I felt that I ought to take this opportunity to take my show #ontheroad one last time. "If not now, when?" I asked.

Mike encouraged me to think more about the tour over the holidays and to make a list of pros/cons to discuss in January. A few weeks later, I met with him and Gary, the pastor of TGC Washington Heights, to present my list. Needless to say (perhaps), I was soon getting my ducks in a row and #ontheroad with the blessing and support of my church community and leaders. I'd travel and play my music throughout the southern and midwestern US over the better parts of both April and May.

After I returned from the tour in late May, I went with Mike to Manolo, a neighborhood tapas restaurant, to talk over some beers (I had a Czechvar, the best beer I've ever had!) This was - ironically? - when he expounded on what it meant that I am a so-called straight edge piece.

When you're building a puzzle, you want to put the corner pieces down first. In the church, those are the people who will have the most influence over the direction of the church. Gary and Mike are certainly corner pieces at TGC Washington Heights. Next, he said, you put down the edge pieces. These are people who live into a consistent narrative and ethic, people who will help frame the development and progress of the church. According to Mike, I was one of these straight edge pieces. And every time I left, I was that annoying edge piece that goes missing (my words, not Mike's). 

My absence made it that much more difficult to see how the puzzle of TGC would come together in the Heights; but now that I'm back (and back for good) I'm locking in with my fellow straight edge pieces to outline the future of our church in this neighborhood. It's an honor to be a part of what God is doing - to take my place in the puzzle God is building here in the Heights.

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