My Mom does not believe in hiding in the backyard. She does not like closed, shrouded windows and shades drawn tight. She once visited me in New Mexico and she almost ran down the street chasing strangers she was so desperate for someone to talk to. It was a “nice” neighborhood but nobody ever went out in the front except for the little girl who brought her guinea pigs out. It really was almost comical, now that I look back on it. It could have been set to music…..everyone came home, garage-doors came up, swallowing entombed drivers and sucking them into the abyss, never to be seen again. “How does anyone expect to get to know each other when they’re all hiding in their backyards?” She has a point.
Back home, life is lived out in the front. There is a picnic table between their house and the neighbors, and it is used by about four families nearby. Mom’s new neighbor sometimes brings homemade scones out in the morning to share. Bible studies have been held on it; and lots of playdough has been pounded into it with little fists, it is also a jumping launch for the kids.
Mom decided she wanted a deck out in front, plunked right on the lawn so she could sit out there. She has a hard time sitting on the uneven ground due to humongous tree roots. So it was built. Then she saw it……The Red Swing. She has been painting everything red for the past few years or so. Her latest acquisition before the swing was the Red Sink which she is very proud of.
My Mom mentioned it to Yvonne, her grocery checker. Now her friend. One day my Mom started talking to her at the store and a spark was ignited, something shared. Something that drew them close as only the Holy Spirit can. She told Yvonne about her new deck and the swing she wanted. Well, it was close to Mother’s Day, and Dad was doomed from the start. Yvonne came by after work with a bouquet of red flowers and made him promise to get her that red swing.
Now everyone uses it. The other night my Mom was getting ready for bed and she heard the neighbor girl singing softly….out in the swing. Another night, some other neighbors were walking, whispering, with another child. Pretty soon, they were quietly swinging as well.
It is a real neighborhood, not without its squabbles, disagreements or differences. But something profound takes place there called life. Community. Shared dreams, heartaches and hopes. When I recently went back, we had a party for my brother’s Birthday. Invitations were sent word of mouth, the best kind. People came bringing food, wine and smiles.
Mom made sure she had her tunes, Big Band blasting forth from the top of the clothesdryer. The firepit was lit….hands were held in a circle of prayer. Grace was there in that gathering of neighbors, and a feeling that we were not just neighbors and friends, but family.
With a red swing out front……