A couple of weeks from now, my neighbour and I are hosting an outdoor block party. We thought we’d tag it onto the
“100 in 1 Day” idea, scheduled for June 7/14 in Toronto and many other cities.
The organisers are encouraging people to make local, creative “interventions” that in some way improve their city, so we’ve delivered invitations and are curious to see which unknown neighbours show up for lemonade and cookies. We’ll offer everyone a chance to play “Neighbourhood Fan Mail” where you write notes of appreciation to folks in your neighbourhood, like a favourite convenience store owner or a house with a gorgeous red front door, for instance. Then you address the envelope, and swap with other neighbours to deliver the "fan mail".
As my neighbour and I talked about which home-owners we knew on our block and which we didn’t, she was surprised that I knew so few. Apparently, when she walks by and someone is outside gardening or shovelling snow, she doesn’t just pass with a smile or a “Good Morning” the way I do; she stays for conversation.
I thought of her surprised tone the next time I walked through my neighbourhood. When I noticed a woman pulling maple tree sprouts out of her garden, I stopped to chat. She was friendly and after we’d covered several subjects she said,
“Yes, I’ve seen you walking by. How many times a day do you do your walk?”
With my customary restraint I snorted loudly,
“A day? More like a week!”
She laughed and said, “I like you!”
Her reaction to my admission is such a tiny example that I’m almost embarrassed to link it with a huge truth. But in fact, my everyday life is small compared to most, so I guess ya gotta go with what ya got.
On any level, honest vulnerability can create intimacy.
To state the obvious, it’s easier to connect with someone like ourselves than with those who seem foreign. It makes sense that the more we can simply express our true selves, warts and all, the more likely we may find commonality, because everybody has warts.
When Christ told us to love our enemy, maybe his implied goal was for us to redefine the concept of “enemy” and stop dividing our world into friends and enemies. Surely such community is a glimpse of heaven or the “kingdom of God”.
As the bible says, “If we admit our warts, we can always count on God to eagerly forgive every wart and to patiently apply wart removal cream.” 1 John 1:9
P.S. When I got home from my walk, I told my block party neighbour why I deserved a gold star.
Did I just reveal another wart?