Life is complicated...too complicated! I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere in between going to college in Waco, and taking my first jobs in Houston and then Dallas, the speed of life increased to a point way beyond my comfort zone. Perhaps it was after marriage, becoming a homeowner, or having kid number one...number two...or number three (sigh). No matter how I arrived here, the fact of the matter is that I am desperate to slow down life's exhaustive, frenetic pace.
This summer I began reading Little House on the Prairie with my daughter Phoebe. I adored the book and television series when I was a child. As we read together, I was reminded of a simpler way of living, and I must say it was quite refreshing! Just imagine: No commute to work, because your job is in the gardens and fields right outside your front door. No children to chauffeur to school and classes, because they walked! No trips to various malls and boutiques to find just the right outfit - in a one-store town, your options are limited. To some, this kind of lifestyle might sound dull and unexciting. But to me, it has the makings of rich, meaningful living, where family and community are treasured and revered.
Community isn't a word that comes up much in conversation anymore. Perhaps because we're so busy these days, running here and dashing there, that we rarely stop long enough to have real conversations. And yet, a community can offer such enrichment for our souls, a real sense of belonging and personal investment in others. In Little House on the Prairie, community and neighbors were essential, because without them, survival was even more of a challenge. Whether it was constructing a log cabin, digging a well, trading livestock, or offering shelter and protection, friends and neighbors were there for each other. Lady Bird Johnson said, "While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many."
What difference do you think it would make if we were all to slow down, take a deep breath, and consider where we might be able to build community in our life? A good starting point might be to designate one day where you and your family carry out acts of kindness, and build community, in your neighborhood. Deliver fresh baked muffins or bread to a family with a new baby. Offer to mow the lawn or rake the leaves for someone who has been sick or is in the hospital. Cut fresh flowers out of the garden for someone who is new to the neighborhood. Pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor who has trouble getting to the store. Invite a family over for dinner and a play date with the children. Organize a block party to encourage people to get to know one another.
The holidays are coming, and we'll soon be all wrapped up in the hustle and bustle that comes with them. Commit now to one day of extending a hand and caring for a neighbor. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face... and your neighbor's!
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