The Joy of Neighboring
Devotional by Anne Remington
My 2.5-mile daily walk means a lot to me. My doctors assure me of its benefits, and I love being with nature and with my neighbors. Not that I really know all my neighbors. For many of them I know their faces and often their dogs. We acknowledge each other with smiles and hellos. In this time of Covid I believe my walks and these connections with neighbors have helped protect me from cabin fever and loneliness. I return from my walk ready to start the day. Five years ago, about six months after my hip surgery, when I was back on my regular walk, neighbors – a couple I didn’t know – said, “Oh, it’s so good to see you! We were afraid something had happened.” It made me feel good that these neighbors cared. Of course, on my walk, I see some wonderful neighbors I do know – like Kaye Walker and Ann & Buzz West. I often walk with Ann and Buzz. We attempt to solve a few of the day’s problems. If nothing else, we enjoy nature. Ann’s great at identifying birds and their calls. One thing for sure, we always have fun.
Almost ten years ago I decided my immediate neighbors and I needed a block party – needed to meet each other. I sent an invitation to the neighbors asking them to join me in my front yard for hot dogs. I gave the date, the time, and the place (my front yard). It was bring your own chair, your own drink, and anything you wanted to eat besides hot dogs. I gave my name and phone number and the first names and addresses of the people on our block.
When the day arrived, it was extremely hot and very humid. I was concerned that we could be overcome by the heat if we sat in my front yard. The party was on a Sunday, so immediately after church, I went up and down the block to let everyone know that the party had been moved to inside my air-conditioned home. I’m glad I didn’t know this ahead of time. I would have worried about them seeing my dust! There were 15 mothers and children and 5 men closely huddled around my dining room table. One couple volunteered to host the block party in their front yard (they have trees), and they would grill the hot dogs (I had to boil them, as I don’t have a grill). All I had to do was buy the hot dogs and change the date and place on the invitation. That was a great deal for me.
Except for the Covid summers, we have had the block party every year since that first one. We have had anywhere from 6 to 16 people present. We have had fun. We have discussed neighborhood news….people who have come and gone. We’ve discussed neighborhood pets….the dogs, cats, the rooster that once resided in our midst, and even the pigs (5?) that lived down the street. One of our neighbors had serious health problems and wasn’t able to get out. The neighborhood block party gave her a chance to be out with her neighbors. It was worth having the block party just for her, she had such a wonderful time!
This spring we were able to have our rummage sale again. A chance to make some money and an opportunity to clear out items we no longer need. I found two kinds of car polish which, since I let Mother Nature wash and polish my car, must have belonged to my husband. On my walks I have noticed a neighbor who owns a Ninety-Eight Olds. Although I don’t know him well, I know he loves that car. I left those polishes and my name at his front door. Weeks later he saw me and thanked me. He told me his name and that of his wife. I see him driving his “Green Flash” in the neighborhood.
I may not always cook, keep house, or wash my car, but I am grateful to benefit from such wonderful neighbors. There is joy in that.
May we pray: Our Heavenly Creator – Help us to practice, close to home, the art of neighboring. May we enjoy the security of and joy that come from having and being good neighbors. Amen.