My scripture reading for today - Acts 11: 1-18 - turned out to be particularly meaningful to me. In my life before C'ville, distraction kept me from the one thing that mattered the most, inner peace and unfettered love of my fellow man. Life offered a lot to help keep my own barriers set up to shield me from others, those who were different and pushed at my comfort zone. It wasn't an extreme thing; it was more like the daily stumbling blocks of life that isolated me from others. As for many, it is the constant drip, drip, drip, that wears on us.
When I left California and started writing about my experiences living here, I had no intention of these posts becoming any sort of a confessional but writers of essays and observers of life go where they are lead and I've been lead to healing places; place that when embraced, emboldened me to write from the heart of what matters the most. And what matters the most to me are our commonalities, not our differences.
I never imagined that my writing, my view of the world around me, would spring from my growing understanding of what I was gleaning in my daily scripture readings, a habit I didn't successfully start and maintain until this past Lenten season. There certainly is a lot of "help" out there to move us along our inspirational pathway, a whole industry, in fact. But it wasn't until the quiet of C'ville that the value and meaning of the Word made its final push to the surface.
Community, a word I seem to be examining a lot this month, is so much more than one's small circle of friends, one's family, or church. Acts 11: 1-18 tells us our community is all around us and if we focus on what we have in common, we can surely overcome our differences.
Ask yourself what you have in common with others. Your list will probably look a lot like mine: school, work, where we shop, athletics, the arts, neighbors, books, church, community service. We don't have to be controlled by fear, mistrust, and age-old hatreds. We don't have to be divided from each other.
The poem below is one I wrote many years ago. Reading it now, I read it as a foreshadowing of what I would know here many years later.
I took a walk through your neighborhood today
and discovered that we had something in common.
We both live on quiet streets, mine public, yours private.
Similarities ended there.
My front door opens to the world welcoming friends and family in.
I stroll by houses on your street and cannot see a front door
so well-hidden are they.
Casual landscapes of brilliant flowers, shading trees, and cobbled walks
set out a welcome mat that leads to our front door.
The intricate and formal arrangement of trees and shrubs form
impenetrable walls that keep your front door out of sight.
Basketball hoops and tetherball poles stand in the church parking lot,
unused throughout the week and exploding with activity on weekends,
a moving picture across from my ordinary home.
I stop for a moment staring in the direction of where
I can glimpse the roof of what must be an imposing building.
Is that a stand of tall field lights I see?
Do they illuminate a private court?
What games are played there?
I am a visible invitation to take a moment to rest
at my front porch to any who pass by.
But, looking at the entrance of the road that leads
to the roof of the hidden house,
I wonder how long that driveway is;
and is there a gatekeeper, a final wall to penetrate
near the front door?
I have church bells, a school, a parking lot;
all signs of life in motion.
I can't see any of that near your front door.
But we do share one thing in common - the quiet.
My quiet is the gentle buzz of life.
Your quiet is the quiet of protective walls.
Perhaps we both have something of what each of us
needs the most after all.