We’re getting to know our new city, the Preacher and I. Every community has its own uniqueness, as individual and identifiable as a human thumbprint.
Pleasant summer days find us exploring, sometimes together, sometimes on our own. I walk or bike, while Rick rides his tall scooter. The dog follows on his extendable leash. Sometimes a grandbean or two comes along. We feel abundantly blessed to live near them again.
We pass front yards with foundation gardens, stately trees and neat lawns. But my favourite walks take me past the backsides of the same houses; the alleys that resonate with summer life. Basketball hoops and fire pits. Gardens, garages and gazeboes. Barbecues and boats. Trampolines and porch swings. Purple martin condos, saws and building projects.
As I write, the grip of pandemic lockdown is slowly loosening. Good thing too, for most of us hunger for connection outside our family bubbles. We have a deep yearning that opens us up to others in ways we never knew before COVID-19 began breathing death down our necks.
Summer came late this year. However tardy, people seem grateful for its gifts, doubly so if they have someone to share it with. Everyone I see on those walks seems welcoming and amiable, especially those I meet in the alleys. I offer my name and my smile; they offer the same back. Some offer other gifts. Perennials and herbs, rhubarb and raspberry canes. Directions, information and opinions. They ask about Cash’s breed, and if he’s friendly. They want to know where we moved from, which house we bought, if we like it here so far and if we put in a garden.
To my surprise, some of those conversations go deep. Fast. There’s something freeing about baring one’s soul to a stranger. One woman I met lost her husband during the pandemic. She feels stripped of routine, and without a burial, unfinished. But she’s strong. Sweeping her arm over the abundant garden filling her backyard, she touched the cross around her neck. “I have my faith. That holds me together.” She said she’s been growing potatoes for 55 years. “It’s not the best year for those either. But I won’t stop now.”
Some people live in the same community an entire lifetime. That amazes me. But over the ten moves in my adult life, I’ve never looked back with regret or resented relocation. Every move has broadened us. Every community has brought rich experiences. And every near neighbor has become a friend.
We named our previous home Hope House, because God led us there when we most needed hope. I haven’t thought of a name for our new place yet, but already it feels like home, and the nearest neighbours, like old friends.
In his Divine mercy, God is still better to all of us than we deserve. And like that woman in her garden, no matter what’s ahead, faith in Jesus Christ holds us together too. It can do the same for you. Don’t stop now.