Our house is a very, very, very fine house...
Every night I like to take what I have come to think of as a walk through the neighborhood. I begin with the first link in my favorites and I continue on down the street until I have visited the home of each and every one of my good friends.
Sometimes I pause to say nothing more than a simple hello. I just want my friends to know I’m thinking about them and that I have not forgotten them. It is a neighborly thing to do. To me it is an important part of building a community.
Community has always been important to me. I remember living in a small town in Indiana as a child; Jeffersonville to be exact. It was next to Clarksville, the place the musical group The Monkeys made famous with the song, Take the last train to Clarksville. My family lived in what was called a court.
A court was a circle of houses at the end of a gravel path that ran off of the main road. There was an island of grass in the middle of the complex where the mailboxes lined up on a two by four wooden plank. This made it easy on the small white mail truck to deliver the mail each day.
We were pretty isolated and sometimes days would go by without an automobile whizzing by on the main road outside our little community. Town was something miles up the road from us and an all day journey on a bicycle to get to and from. For all the isolation of where we lived the one feeling I never knew was loneliness.
What I have always remembered about those years is the closeness I felt to everyone who lived around me. In those days you knew everything about your neighbors. You knew when they were fighting, when they were drunk and when a parent was whipping his child. You could take a walk out to the mailboxes and tell what every family was having for dinner just by the smells carried by the breeze. There were no secrets in our little Court.
I remember the quiet time just after the supper dishes were washed and put away. All the children would be playing in the yard as women sat in small groups talking on the evening’s chosen front porch. The men would be performing various tasks in whatever garage they were gathered in listening to baseball on the radio. It was a congregation of neighbors sharing the daily moments of their lives. It was a time of community.
The blogosphere is the closet thing I’ve felt to those moments in a very long time. There is an intimacy to what we share here. You know when someone is feuding and you know when someone is loving. It is hard to keep secrets in this place when every word you type is right there in black and white for the entire world to see.
There are two options in this community we share; either you learn to be tolerant and forgiving or you wind up alone and unread with nobody interested in linking to your blog. It reminds me of those long ago days in Jeffersonville, Indiana where you knew everyone’s business but you never held it against them. After all, if you isolated yourself from your neighbors you had no friends, and if you had no friends you had no place in the community. That was when you knew what lonely felt like and nobody in his right mind wanted to experience something like that.
I believe we are rediscovering an important set of values here. We are learning how to be neighbors again. We are learning how to be tolerant and forgiving. We are learning to be accepting of our differences and our imperfections. We are rediscovering our humanity in every aspect of its expression. We are reawakening to the goodness of community.
I am hopeful that this experience will begin to carry over into the real world we are a part of too. In a world so filled with anger and violence I believe it is a healing from which we can all benefit.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have an evening walk to take. There are neighbors I need to visit and perhaps a new friend or two to make. I believe a community is waiting to be built and I’d very much like to be a part of it.