I was eating lunch at one of my favorite chicken restaurants (come on, Chick-fil-A) and saw some firemen across the parking lot helping the Bob Evan’s employees with a very large worn U.S. Flag, that had gotten hung up when they tried to bring it down. It made me feel good to see this service. It reminded me of the importance of community.
I grew up with the Army, as I have mentioned before, and community came part and parcel with the bases and neighborhoods I lived in. I didn’t understand what a good community I had. I didn’t understand how lucky I was. I have lived in the same neighborhood for 5 years now. I have tried a few times to get my neighbors together with a cook-out or other activities. It has not worked, at best I got 5 out of 50 families that have responded. I don’t know very many of them, they stay in their homes and don’t often come out. I am out regularly with my boys, they enjoy running around and playing in the yard (or neighborhood).
I have been thinking about this for sometime because of the differences between the military neighborhoods of my youth and the ones I have lived in since. I realized that I was spending time thinking about it about 2 Halloweens back when I passed out candy to the kids coming by. It dawned on me that ‘community activities’ help to build and strengthen them, to knit the hearts and minds of neighbors together. This is important to the safety and well-being of every individual living in that geographic location.
When a new military family moved into the neighborhood it was common for a few of the wives and husbands to come by and introduce themselves, bring a baked good (or store bought treat), invite the new neighbors to dinner, and offer to watch the kids while the parents unpack. In that setting, it was really important that we rely on each other; at any moment we might have to evacuate. Now, please don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t all peace and roses. There were people who didn’t like each other and there were rivalries between adults and some of the kids. (I mean we are human.) It always felt like home, there was always trick or treating and caroling and even block parties! We got to know each other, we leaned on each other for help. When I was 18 and a Senior in high school, my grandparents were in a near fatal car accident and my parents left us all in Germany and went back to PA. For 2 weeks my siblings lived with other families while my brother and I stayed at home. Our younger siblings came home after church with us Sunday and slept there and then after school they went back to the neighbors they were staying with. I mean seriously, we were in a tight knit community in another country and my parents felt we were safe within our neighborhood.
That is a good community!
That is something I miss!
This is the type of community I want to live in, this is the type of community that I want to build. It is the type of community that we should all want to live in. A place where we can trust our kids will be save playing there, a place where families share their goods and good times, a place that we can be proud of, and a place where love dwells.
Yes, love. No, I am not talking about romantic love, I mean brotherly love (platonic love, if you like). Where we have the best interests of our friends and neighbors at heart. Where trespasses are forgiven and others are welcomed with warms hands, warm hearths, and warm hearts.