When I think about what made me fall in love with Glenwood, I think about hot summer days at the park, kids stopping by my house to visit, talking with neighbors while taking walks. Now, when I think about my day-to-day life in Glenwood, it rarely includes any of these things. What happened? I could give a laundry list of reasons why these things don’t seem to fit, but I think the reality is that I drifted. A few years ago I would say that having a full-time, demanding job outside of the neighborhood took all of my energy. Over the last two years, I’d say a full-time job in the neighborhood took all my energy — I’m with neighborhood kids all day, right? These excuses represent a drift that is all too familiar to me — much like the slow drift away from Jesus that happens when we’re too distracted to pray, too tired to have a quiet time, too bored to engage at church. We drift away from our first love, unintentionally, and at high cost.
This summer, a few friends and I were reminiscing about the “good old days” in Glenwood. There was joy in laughing over old memories, but a sadness and longing underlying the discussion. As we talked, we realized one of the parts of living in community we had really drifted from, without even realizing it — the spontaneity & fun of just hanging out and meeting new neighbors. It’s great working at a school where our neighborhood kids attend, but the reality is, my time there is spent making sure the school runs. My time at the park can just be spent listening to a kid, no background concerns about whether the food delivery came or how I’ll ever find enough test proctors.
So, we decided to take it back to the basics. What made us fall in love with the neighborhood was the kids and the time we got to spend with them. We planned a kickball game — 7:00 on a Friday night. We hung a couple posters in the park and brought drinks on ice. The result? Almost 50 people showed up. We played an awesome game of 20 on 20 kickball. Almost all of the kids were under the age of 10, so it was pretty hilarious. Girls who wanted a break from the game got their nails painted. Parents hung out and chatted.
It was (and is) such a great reminder of how easy relationship can be. The fruit of these encounters is seen all over the neighborhood — in the kids who gravitate to the community garden for friendship and fresh veggies, in the moms willing to take a chance on a bunco night with women they don’t know, in the neighbors who watch out for you because they know you watch out for the kids. Beautiful relationships are sprouting from such small investments of time.
The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood…but I’m pretty sure He didn’t just sit in His house! Thanks for that reminder, Lord! We were created to be in community, and it’s waiting just outside our front doors.