And what a beautiful picture it is. From the tots to the white haired, from the immigrant to the 30-year residents to those just moving in, from engineers and teachers to artists, the one thing we share is this place. We are neighbors.
On Tuesday, I was in the office where we run our nonprofit, Turning Point, that brings neighbors and students together to provide after school tutoring and summer STEM camps to kids who are facing challenges. And as usual, a Turning Point parent came by and we shared heart to heart. Because Turning Point is far more than a program. It is a community. And again and again, we hear from parents, "You are our community." "You are our family." "I don't know what I would do without you."
And we are so privileged to be invited into their lives. I have been invited to Christmas celebrations and coffee ceremonies. Lynn, our director, has been invited for tea, coffee, injera, baby baptisms, and community events. We celebrate the wins together and grieve the losses. Lynn is a pastor at heart and loves on our parents, tutors and students indiscriminately. And just this past month Lynn, on behalf of Turning Point, was awarded Community Partner of the Year at Parkwood Elementary! It is so beautiful to see what God is doing as we continue to be faithful to love our neighbor.
Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our being (heart, mind, soul and strength) and to love our neighbor as ourself. And there was a time in my life when the "love your neighbor" was a bit theoretical for me. Yes, sure, love everyone but what did that look like in my everyday life? Of course, there were occasional opportunities to connect with a neighbor or another parent or someone in need, but most of my relational energy was spent inside my Christian cloister of church friends and my own family.
Today, after investing in the Shoreline community through Turning Point over the past 7 years; after rooting in this community as we moved into the neighborhood 5 years ago; and after living intentionally with others in the neighborhood for the past 3 years, I can tell you this. I don't want to live any other way! And neither would my family. We all shed big, crocodile tears saying goodbye to our housemates, Ryan, Cecelia and Ammie this week. One of my daughters said, "Can't we all just live together forever?"
And our neighbors felt the loss too. We care about one another. We are community. We are family. From the social justice book club, to community story nights, to Turning Point community meals and neighborhood dinners, a fabric of care is being woven here. And "loving our neighbor" is no longer theoretical. It is real. It is gritty, and it is beautiful.
My challenge for The Practicing Church this summer is to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR. In summer the Seattle freeze thaws a bit and people are out in their yards and in their neighborhoods. So now is the time to practice loving your neighbor. Below, you will find some simple ways to begin and I hope all of you will join in the fun!
WALK YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Get out of the isolation of your car and walk your neighborhood. You might actually encounter your neighbors! And bonus points if you walk your neighborhood with your dog! People cannot resist a dog! Here's a wonderful article about the practice of walking your 'hood.
Loving Your Actual Neighbor By Walking Your 'Hood
SUMMER [PERPETUAL] PARTY
Host a party in your backyard this summer and invite your neighbors. It's easy as 1-2-3.
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT
August 7th is a night dedicated to getting to know your neighbors. There are parties going on in most neighborhoods and you can even choose to host one on your street. Such an easy way to meet your neighbors!
CASUAL GET TOGETHER
If a party sounds like too much, invite a few neighbors over for drinks on the deck or a fire pit or game night. Make it casual!
SUMMER COMMUNITY EVENTS
There are always lots of events in summer, so get out there and attend some. Invite a neighbor to go with you! Summer concerts in the park, farmer's markets, festivals - spend time frolicking in your neighborhood!
by Jessica Ketola