Last year, the 1st year, we walked around the block, Andy and I, in the freezing cold wondering what the year would bring; believing God has a hand in it all; hoping that we could come to know the neighborhood and learn to be community together.
This year, we have the experience of a year lived on this block. We have shared the street with ambulances, police cars, taxis, fire trucks and kids throwing the ball to each other. We’ve helped our new found friend move out, talked about moving with our neighbor three doors down and watched our neighbors’ homes across the street burn – smoke and flame billowing out the windows. We have helped people get to the emergency room, load a moving van and get a refund on a faulty car part.
Our lives lived here have participated in local businesses, chains of one, where the hardware store celebrated another anniversary, Stewart’s carries Andy’s favorite brand, the drug store clerk knows we don’t need a bag, the clerk at the Italian store knows Leah’s favorite, and my car’s license plate cover advertises for the people who work on my car.
Our church stands on the corner – a readng clinc, a place for AA/NA meetings, food pantry, a bit of a clothing room with precious few to engage in building the Body of Christ connection in the street. People came to the community dinner on personal invite; we delivered a few meals and met even more people where we live.
A neighbor waves first, blessing us that we might wave knowing that, while that is unusual in our neighborhood, change can be good.
A building is only a building – stone, mortar, wood and concrete – even with stained glass windows, it is still only a building. The front doors of the church, pretty much unused, faded, bare of warm invitation in weathered immobility. But they do open. Strengthen our will to open the door to our hearts, joining the life in the streets. Let us put out more than out garbage cans along with our neighbors. “Is that church still open?” “I don’t know! A couple were running it, but I don’t know whether it is still open or not.” There is hope.
“DANGER! This structure is declared unsafe for human occupancy or use.” How can it be that so mnay structures in our neighborhood carry this warning? Does this represent a concern for safety or a disclaimor of responsibility for how the nighborhood is falling apart around our lives? God bless us with a voice to ask the questions to renew feelings of security in our lives.
Lunch at Stewarts, even in a power outage. The anchor of the neighborhood – open early and late for coffee, sandwiches, milk, bread and eggs, ice cream and a bathroom anyone can use. God bless us with the hospitality that meets basic needs more readily than we do as neighbors looking inward, missing what Stewarts understands. Our lives depend on it.
Stony Lane offers company, friendly conversation and a place to grieve as well as celebrate. A local pub offering ‘Quick Draw’ for the hopeful and relief from the pressures of light in dim friendship without intimacy. Mike knows your name, but not where you live. God bless with a kind heart softened by the need to comfort another.
La Gioia is a return to the living tradition even among many who do not partake. Seems most customers come by car – mostly an older crowd with young people serving along side older folks. Friendly welcomes, a smile warm enough to express appreciation mutually recognized. But the comers are mostly outsiders; maybe they used to live on this street, in this neighborhood, but I don’t recognize them nor do they pass the time of day with each other. God bless us with the significance of other with whom we share breath and air and sidewalks and our garbage.
‘Welcome’; ‘Beware of the dog’; ‘For Sale’; ‘WPA’; ‘No Standing This Side starting 9am Mon, Wed & Fri’; ‘Happy Easter’; ‘AFT Obama Biden’; ‘Exit: exit Northway Realty – For Sale’; United States Postal Service’; ‘STOP – All Ways’; ‘The Everlasting Life Church of God in Christ’; ‘Notice of Abandonment and Order to Vacate – all persons are directed to vacate the premises immediately’; ‘No Parking – Tenants Only’. God bless us with vision to see beyond the signs to the soul of humanity alive in each one of us. Together, give us life.