Community is POWERwashing.

I posted this earlier this summer on Facebook as I was in the midst of power- washing and re-painting the home we rent. A shout out to Heidelberger Painting in Madison, SD for showing me and instilling the seeds of work ethic and know-how to tackle such a job. Let no one underestimate the HARD work of a paint contractor, my siblings and I have been well taught.
Hence, my ever-thinking mind would not stop and in the midst of work I find some of my best thoughts.

I was out power washing my home tonight to prep for a much needed paint job. I could not have done so without the willing help of my neighbors lending me the power washer they used to do their own home. As I blasted the wood and watched the paint chips fly, years of previous paint jobs came to mind. Who lived here before? Why did they choose the color they did, what was their story? Was this a house or a home for them and what made it so?

My generation hears of good ole fashioned “barn raisings” where entire communities would gather to help erect a home, to put together a sod house. Laura Ingalls Wilder was fond of describing Pa and the crew helping one another after a storm ravaged an area, a fire tore through the homestead, or the planting, harvesting, and prepping for winters. The key was community and gathering together to share one another’s lives and burdens. I thought about that this eveing and wondered if that philosophy has withered a bit.

It is true we come together in times of crisis and turmoil. There remains instant reactions when tornadoes or floods rip through a town or country area. We rally when hurricanes ravage a coastline, leaving people homeless and hopeless. What about in our day-to-day interactions? What happens when the sun finally shines and we are all milling about doing our own lawn work? Do we take the time to connect as we walk behind our mowers?

I am blessed by the neighbors I have. Our children play together, our yards are connected and so are our lives. We give and take with good humor and generous hearts. I grew up in the country, where long driveways and field and lake space was ample. To live right next to other people where I walk 25 feet to my mailbox is foreign territory for me. Yet the loving attitude of the communal relationship with my neighbors continues to bless my life. This has transferred to shared garden plots, time around fire pits, neighborhood kids playtime in our backyards-complete with water fights and slip and slides in the summer. The youngest of the bunch is a 2 year old that screams my name when he sees me. “NINDY! Nindy, In?” He will climb up my steps, walk into my house and into the playroom and sit down as though he were in his own home. He toddles over to give me hugs and I call out to their daughter, “hey sweetie! how are you today?” They are not my kids, but have a place in my heart and home. We are, we are bonded by hard work, location, and community. We plant together, we cry together, we laugh, reprimand and discipline our children together…and we dream.

Over cups of coffee and sometimes something stronger, we envision futures for our children, discuss local and national politics, share faith and mission, and strengthen the bond of community…That bond is POWERwashed in POWERFUL communion.

Shalom.
cahl

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