Ministerial Musings: Why I Love Lakewood
I love Lakewood, Ohio. Why? There are several reasons…
First of all, our public services are second to none. We have amazing police and fire departments (not to mention a quality hospital right in the center of town). These civil servants keep our community safe with proactive programs and responsive service.
Our schools are exceptional, misdirected Newsweek articles notwithstanding. My three children have experienced Lakewood elementary, middle school, and high schools. Since I moved to this community almost two years ago, I have been fully impressed with the care and compassion with which our teachers imbue our children with knowledge as well as the ability to think critically and creatively. No matter how much money these teachers make, it is not enough.
I was born, raised, and educated in New England, which many see as the center of academic excellence. Yet, I have yet to see a library as stellar as ours. I frequent the Lakewood Public Library often. The staff is courteous, cooperative, and committed to their work. Our library provides residents with excellent resources: textual and technical, audio and visual.
We are a diverse community. I once heard that Lakewood has the largest population of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) folks per capita than any other city or town in the country. That is a blessing! Many of us (myself included) take for granted that when we drive down Detroit Avenue to see a performance or take a class at the Beck Center (a cultural and artistic haven) or down Madison Avenue to get a delicious microbrew at Buckeye Beer Engine, it is not uncommon to see African-Americans, Latinos/Latinas, people from a sundry of Asian countries, and adherents of different faith traditions (Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islam, and Hindu). Very few Midwestern communities can claim such diversity.
Do I even need to mention Melt? That place is God’s love between two slices of bread.
Having lived in Kansas City where practically every restaurant and store is franchised, it is a relief to see independent shops lining our streets offering everything from fresh coffee, to CDs, to clothing, to hobby supplies. I know that when I walk into Lakewood Hardware, I not only find what I need, but am given free and lucid advice on how to fix that leaky faucet or the broken window at home. For someone as mechanically inept as me, that speaks volumes.
Why else to I love Lakewood? Mayor Ed Fitzgerald, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and State Representative candidate Nickie Antonio. Need I say more?
Although we are largely comprised of Democrats, we converse openly and respectfully with Republicans, Libertarians, and Democratic-Socialist clergy who write articles for The Lakewood Observer.
Why am I lifting up the community I love so much in a “religion” column? For me, community is spiritual — it lies at the heart of a life of faith. God calls us from ourselves to live in fellowship with one another. This occurs in the church, of course, but it also occurs in the places where we live, work, and play.
Communities like Lakewood are a testament to God’s grace: they embody a life of love and hope that people share with one another; they illustrate how cooperation trumps competition; they are living testament of the peace — the shalom — that God wills for all of creation.
I am grateful that my family and I found this city. Thank you, Lakewood.
John Tamilio III is the proud religion columnist for The Lakewood Observer.