Did you know that Americans today spend such little time outside of their homes that most don't even know the names of the people living just across the street from them? It's a sad story if you ask me. Garages are built right into houses and mail boxes on the front door so all you have to do is magically drive in and out of your garage and technically never go out to see who is really outside your 4 walls of a home. That inner door keeps you from walking the extra distance across a lawn or two and facing a real life person or interacting with the average dog walker and jogger coming by. While I love a good back-yard, I also know the value in hanging out in my front yard, parking out of my garage, and letting my neighbors see we are some real folks living life right alongside our fellow neighbors.
When I think about what I've learned about community and what God wants from us to live within community, I quickly think back to our own block of community members. Every so often something unexpected and wonderful comes out of simply choosing to walk across a yard and say hello. As I intentionally gathered my children, cleaned their faces, and baked cookies to deliver to new neighbors a year ago...I took that little walk across the front yards and arrived at their front steps intending to welcome them to the neighborhood and offering a friendly suggestion to stop by sometime. I went to be the giver, but I have found that my life has been deeply impacted as the receiver in a way of community that I wish every person could experience in their own neighborhood.
My family sat out front one night this week and admired the big moon and ate pizza late at night and laughed and let summer settle in around us. And we did it with our neighbors. Our neighbors who are just a yard away, but in my heart they are comfortably sitting on my family room sofa. Delivering cookies quickly became delivering ourselves in a way that we have been able to open our homes and hearts as we pass the days together. Between sharing tools and recipes and baked treats and dog sitting and kid swapping and meal making and yard games and tears and laughter, we have somehow stolen a little piece of what I think community can really look like. I am beyond blessed to have such kind, genuine, and good neighbors. A place where my children can go and be loved on and played with and cheered on to be who they are. A place where I can walk in and be welcomed with a smile and be encouraged to be who I am. People who I can invite to my dinner table the very last second and know they don't care if I am serving left-over soup from 3 days ago or a 4 course meal. People who offer to help in so many ways, yet don't pass judgment when my house is in shambles, my teeth aren't brushed, and I just yelled at my kids. These folks from just a yard away in so many ways are the best neighbors, but mostly, they've become some of our best friends.
As I step out of my front door I always look just a yard away and feel like I'm just gazing on down home. I am blessed to eat pizza late at night with another family who is willing to step outside and share life with my bunch. It's been just a year since we went on a walk just a yard away. Today my boys run that short distance to greet some of their favorite familiar faces. As I intentionally tried to welcome them to the neighborhood, I have been so blessed as they intentionally welcomed me into their hearts. They say the grass is greener on the other side...in our case, it most certainly is!