The wind blew causing all the leaves to fall off the branches and coat our courtyard inside our apartment complex with a carpet of foliage.
There were puddles everywhere and streams of water running down the streets. I even heard thunder. As a former Midwest girl this is a novelty now that I live in San Diego. It was a truly beautiful sound. Scott and I decided to start on a 1500 piece puzzle of Van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night. It is still in the works on our kitchen table. It more than just a "rainy day" puzzle. It's a "rainy month" and then some type puzzle. As the rain let up I decided to go on a walk that afternoon as I always do after a rain. Scott stayed home and worked on the puzzle since he has more patience for such things than I do. After a rain I feel an intense need to go out and find what rain has done to my surroundings, to nature, to my neighborhood and see what it has revealed.
In church we have been talking about giving. Scott and I have tried to become more intentional about praying for our neighborhood and asking God to show us how we can bless those near to us. Growing up I didn't live in a neighborhood. I lived out on the country on 30+ acres. I found solace and adventure in the space and freedom I had on this land. I had forests and trees to climb, rolling hills to run down and sled on and a pond to fish in. I had a fort, a canoe, and a fence to climb over. There were endless trails and endless possibilities out in the wilderness for me as a kid. I want to think about my neighborhood like that now. There is beautify to be found everywhere. Now instead of a forest and cows as my neighbors I have nail salons, the post office, bars, coffee shops, books stores and antique stores. There are beautiful faces and barking dogs and (sometimes honking horns) and the smell of coffee beans roasting. There are sidewalks and houses, yards, flowers, churches and there are still trees but I avoid climbing my neighbor's trees.There are spaces and places and lives that feel lost and alone.
Scott and I haven’t done anything extravagant in our neighborhood. We have just tried to greet our baristas by name. I make eye contact with the people who do my nails and ask them about their kids. We talk to our neighbors about the weather. We try to make sure to tip well. We pray for the houses we pass on our walks. It hasn’t been all Sesame Street. One day I was driving home and was waiting for a man to cross the street before I turned left onto my street. The big green truck behind me was in a hurry and honked at me. I was in no mood after a long day of work and a stressful meeting. I threw my hands in the air at said truck and seriously considered flipping this person off. Weirdly enough this truck followed me onto my street, onto my alley and into MY parking lots. Waittttt…..this person was my neighbord?!! She got out of her car and I got out of mine awkwardly and we both headed to the door to get inside our gate. She apologized to me and said she was in a hurry. I explained to her I was waiting for a man to walk across the street. Silence. It was painfully uncomfortable as we both walked to our apartments. This is the reality of living a human life when you pull back the curtains of the glamorous life real people don’t actually live.
I want people to see Jesus in me and I want them to experience this generous, irresistible and warm light. I am trusting that little acts of giving in our neighborhood are beautiful even if small. Some days it comes more naturally than others and other days I just want to flip people off.
At the risk of sounding too cheesy I am trusting that the time and prayers we put in on our ordinary days will create something stunning and extraordinary in the future. I pray the small pieces create a big work of art. Hopefully like our never-ending puzzle J