This word is constantly rolling around in my mind. Maybe because in the last few years, I have begun to see what a major and positive impact community, and being part of one, has had on my life. I could go so far as to say that it is one of the top reasons my husband and I,
a) Love the church we attend.
b) Would be hesitant to move away.
(Even though home looks like THIS lately…
Gah – December, and I am so done with snow! )
Every so often, I feel a tug to BE community.
Does that make sense?
I am constantly blessed with being part of a community; a family, church family, friends, etc., but I admit to not often being the initiator of community, or the inviter. For example, as someone who has attended the same church for the past few years, I should be the one saying ‘Hello’ to unfamiliar faces; I should be the one making others feel welcome; helping newcomers feel a sense of belonging.
Instead, it is almost like I’m still waiting for the invite. Like I’m the newcomer standing in the corner, hoping someone will say ‘Hi’ to me so I don’t feel painfully awkward and out-of-place.
What prompted this post in the first place, was that a ‘newcomer’ approached me; she extended an invitation to me. Said ‘Hi’ to me.
But not in church.
On my street.
I was just finishing up with shovelling the driveway, my glasses askew, my hair sticking up every which way, and my face all rosy from the cold, when a woman approached me with a card.
She wasn’t a Jehovah’s witness. She wasn’t trying to sell me anything or get me to join some club.
She was simply new to the neighborhood, and was inviting ME over to her open house get together this weekend.
“Oh, how nice!” I said. I hope it didn’t sound insincere; my social skills could use a little polishing…
Nevertheless, I think I might go. I think I should go.
I don’t know this woman. I don’t know what her beliefs are, or what her religion is. But she is opening up her home to complete strangers.
Christian or not, that’s love. That is being community.
Maybe I can learn a thing or two from her.
Growing up, I was the kid that mumbled and grumbled when my Ma called my brother and I outside to shovel the driveway, before Dad got home from work. Perhaps the root of my frustration, was knowing we had a perfectly functional snow blower parked in the garage, waiting – silently begging – to be used. However, my Ma felt uncomfortable using it, or letting any one of us kids use it, lest we manage to break something.
So instead, we reluctantly dressed in our winter gear; snowpants, jacket, boots, scarves, toques, gloves (sometimes 2 pairs); and trudged to the garage for the best shovel.
For a mid-sized family, we had quite a collection of shovels. Two heavy, metal shovels for chipping the ice; two small, plastic red shovels from when my brother and I were much younger ( My folks’ certainly weren’t against child labour – I intend to do the same!); A sturdy plastic shovel; and then, our personal favorite, the giant, red scoop shovel. So large, two kids could use it for a sled, if they so desired. ( I don’t recall if we ever did…)
So, because there was a favorite, we would take turns, swapping shovels every so often. Most of the time, my Mom was the ice chipper. But occasionally, we’d swap with her too.
I’m sure when evening rolled around, Dad was pleasantly surprised to pull into a cleared driveway. Really, it was the least we could do. That man has the best work ethic I’ve ever seen in my life. He just gets things done. He’ll work a 9, 10, 12 hour day, then come home and fix the vehicle, work on a project, fix something in the house or yard. Often in the winter, when the snow reached knee-deep or higher, he would use the snow blower and make his way across the field, creating for us a path to school. I’m sure lots of kids used this path. Heck, even deer used the path!
That’s how he showed Love; by doing, by serving.
Isn’t that what serving is all about? An act of Love and kindness? You don’t have to know somebody to demonstrate kindness either.
A couple of winters back, sometimes my roommates and I would be pleasantly surprised to come outside and find our driveway already shovelled. (That Christmas, we gave our neighbours a small gift basket, with a note of our appreciation.)
I want to learn to have a servant’s heart. I think it is safe to say, Jesus is the best example of how to do this.
How can we show love to our neighbours this season? To family? Friends? Co-workers, and strangers?