“We call it the Pine Ridge wave,” said my new neighbor. I had asked her about the others who lived on the street onto which my family had just moved. She said the families on the street used to be close, especially during the years when they all were raising young children. Since then, however, she said some had divorced or moved away; others had moved in.
People were friendly; my neighbor told me, but their friendliness seemed reduced to polite waves as they passed one another while driving up and down the street and going about their business.
In the neighborhood of my childhood, we used to do a lot of front porch sitting. Everything and nothing happened in that space out in the open air. Neighborhood kids gathered to figure out what to do next, one day on my porch and the following day on that of another.
Folks wandered across the street to admire each other’s flowering annual beds. Neighbors exchanged news, gossip and advice. Each evening the elderly woman from the next block–the one who spoke with a thick accent and wore a kerchief on her head–passed by on her way to and from mass.
My dad used to escape to the front porch on hot summer nights, his radio tuned to listen to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sometimes I sat there with him rocking back and forth on the porch swing; not saying much, just sitting until the mosquitoes chased us inside.
My tall, strong father broke down into heaving sobs on that porch one day when a neighbor stopped to ask about my mother who was in the hospital. That neighbor wrapped his arms around my dad, holding on to keep him from falling.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Zechariah wrote to God’s people to encourage them as they returned from exile and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. He assured them of God’s promise to come and dwell among them.
Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion! I’m on my way. I’m moving into your neighborhood! God’s decree. Zechariah 2:10, The Message
I’m wondering what it would look like if I lived as though God were really that near, dwelling with me in my neighborhood. I wonder if I would sit with him in the open air, talking about everything and nothing; being mindful of those who passed by, and resting in the confidence that he will catch me when I fall.
Or, as is so often my habit, I would simply offer him a polite wave while driving up and down the street and going about my business.
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