I love our neighbourhood! Not everyone can say the same thing about the community in which they live, so I feel blessed that God has placed us where we are.
A neighbourhood is a district or area with distinctive characteristics and the people who live near one another.[i] They are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members.[ii]
Our immediate neighbourhood is just such a community. It’s not simply a street lined with homes, well tended properties, mature trees, and paved driveways. For me, a neighbourhood is about the people who live in those homes and spend much of their daily lives in close proximity to each other. We are busy people – jobs and careers to fulfill, children to shuttle to and from school and extracurricular activities, grandchildren to care for, groceries to buy, appointments to keep, houses to maintain, and properties to manage.
As we come and go we wave, say “Good morning” and “Have a great weekend!” One neighbour’s dog trots up our front steps looking to greet our kitty. The teen girl next door is baking and knocks at our door wondering if we have a cup of sugar. My husband crosses the street to borrow a tool from another neighbour’s well-stocked garage. Our contractor neighbour spends an hour inspecting our water damaged rec room giving advice. Another man down the street loans us his shop vac. These are common daily or weekly occurrences. They may be typical of your neighbourhood as well.
But you know you live in a special neighborhood when they
- offer to look after kitty while you’re away
- spontaneously put away your garbage bins after pick up
- help you carry groceries into your home
- allow baby shower guests to park in their driveway because there is too much snow to park on the road
- come over during torrential rain to help bail out a flooded outside stairwell
- help support each other during a family crisis
- gather together and provide a meal for grieving neighbours
- stand talking about whatever might be of concern to them or you
One thing East Coast Canadians are passionate about is the weather. We love to chat about it, complain that it’s not to our liking, and wish it could be warmer when it’s cold and cooler when it’s hot. We have an age-old quip, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!” Nothing seems to draw Maritime neighbours together quite like the weather!
And during the last two months, what weather we have had!! Snow, rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, nor’easters, flash freezing, ice – oh, the ice that has coated our Halifax neighbourhoods! Several inches of ice! I’ve never heard so much complaining about our city officials and snow removal crews. Many people are so fed up with the amount of snow and ice, but I’m fed up with all the complaining! Social media makes it much worse as many find an easy voice to air their discontent and anger. What happened to we Maritimers being tough and well seasoned to push through whatever weather comes our way!
What did thrill me in my community during the last week was seeing neighbours emerge after two storms two days apart dumped 80+ centimetres of snow on top of the mounds we already had. My next door neighbour is over six feet tall and you can just see his head above the drifts. During the first storm last Sunday while my husband was in Toronto, he came over and used our snow blower to clean our driveway before his. He insisted on doing it all not wanting me to do any shoveling. On Wednesday, he and my husband shared the snow blower and they helped shovel three feet of the white stuff from our front porch and back stairwell.
At one point I looked out and could only see the plumes of snow being blown over the bankings of several driveways. Neighbours were helping their storm-weary neighbours in a spirit of love and concern for each other. It made me feel warm and deeply happy in what was otherwise a discouraging reality. The sun shone brightly and the little song sparrows sang and I knew all would be fine. Later as I scanned my Facebook friends’ posts, it was heartening to see many neighborhoods across our city coming together in such a selfless manner. Some were even using their own snow blowers to clear their street as plow operators were occupied with opening up the main arteries. It put those complaining self absorbed individuals to shame.
I believe this is the spirit Jesus referred to when He taught us to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” When asked what was the greatest commandment His reply was that all commandments could be summed up in this one great command. I am always overjoyed when I see people live out this command regardless of whether they acknowledge Jesus or not. I believe that goodness and concern for their neighbour, whether geographical or otherwise, lives within many of us and is built into our human spirit because we are created in the image of God.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, however, I am called to an even higher calling. More about that later!
Until next time,