Won’t you be my neighbour?

Today it seems that we have neighbours, but we don’t always have community. We are connected online and we gather up “likes” and “favourites” and “followers”, but the interaction often stays superficial.

We are called to be so much more. We need to be so much more.

Growing up, I knew the names of almost everyone living nearby. We had street-wide games of “Ghost in the Graveyard” and swapped bikes with the neighbour kids. If we were locked out of our house, we had at least three families that would welcome us in until our parents got home. And our neighbours rallied around us when we faced loss and illness over the years.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galations 6:2.

Do you know your neighbours? More than a passing wave or a friendly nod? Do you know them? Do they know you?

Building a sense of community is not easy, but it is simple. It starts with putting ourselves out there. Yes, it is risky, but it is worth it. Here are a few stories from my own community building experience:

A few years ago a complete stranger approached me as I schlepped three of my four children home from the morning walk to school. She asked me if I did home daycare – which I did not, they were all mine. Apparently my double stroller gave her hope that I was taking care of more than just my own children. But her boldness in striking up a conversation led to exchanging of numbers, and we are friends and neighbours today.

Several years ago I was shocked to discover that I knew more people on our street than some of the families that were original owners. I wanted to live in a community like the one I grew up in, and so began Girls Night. I got the ball rolling with the inaugural evening, but now, years later, the group has more than tripled in size. One original circle now overlaps with many. We introduce each other to new friends and welcome each other into our homes. We have a community. We are a community.

And it was our neighbour who played soccer with our boys when I was too bogged down with a newborn and managing a household while my husband attended to his dying mother. And when she passed away, another neighbour came and stayed with our boys so my husband and I could go to the hospital. Those same people attended the funeral, stopped by to check in, brought meals. And when we brought our new babies home for the first time, they were there to welcome them and celebrate with us. They pass along bikes, skates, and clothes to us and take an active interest in our family. We support each other and invest in each other and our community.

Last year I was stuck in the ER with one of my sons and three different neighbour friends helped take care of my other children. I only had to text them and they jumped into action with no hesitation. And I have done the same for them.

Recently a neighbour kid was locked out of his house and came to our home to wait until his dad got home. I was ridiculously pleased because it was then that I realized we truly had created a community.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:12-15.

Do you have community? Are you truly a neighbour to your neighbours? Will you be? Then put yourself out there and take the first step.



Photo by (flickr CC) Saxbald Street Photography