So we hosted a National Night Out block party last night. We, who have lived in our house for 5 months and in this country for 7 months, hosted the party. And it was amazing.
All sorts of neighbors showed up in our front yard, eager to talk and meet and share their lives. One after another, they told us how many years they had lived on our street (1, 3, 5, 11) without ever meeting anyone else on the street. They told us how this was the first time anyone on the street ever reached out to them (we went door to door on Monday delivering hand-written invitations). Then they told us about their lives. One is an aspiring chef. Another is a faithful survivor of divorce. One is a teacher. Another is trying to put her life back together after some really difficult times with drugs.
It was just amazing. We rolled a grill out to the driveway, cooked hot dogs, and iced down some drinks. A couple of folks from our life group came over to help make sure that everyone had someone to talk to. That's it. That is all we did - and the people came. And they opened up like so many flowers, each showing their beauty and frailty... The night ended as darkness fell and one by one our neighbors excused themselves to head home - but not before several promised to have us over soon.
We are one step closer to a real community. We are one step closer to really being able to share life and love with the people living all around us. We owe that to our church, which paid for the food and drinks. And we owe our life group friends, who really stepped in and helped us to have enough hands and smiles to make our neighbors feel welcomed and known. We slept with grateful hearts last night. I suppose we can't possibly thank anyone enough, so we look upwards and wonder if the thanks shouldn't head that way...it usually does.