I heard my home phone ring, but couldn’t find the receiver. We never use our landline anymore. The calls are automated anyways — from the pharmacy reminding us to pick up a prescription or a pre-recorded political message.
I felt a familiar nudge, the one that moves me into action. This time it prompted me to listen to the message from my elderly neighbor across the street.
“Kristin,” her voice message began, “I felt a nudge in church to call you. The story our pastor shared about your turquoise table really spoke to me and I just wanted to run an idea by you. Please call.”
“Hmmm… two nudges must mean something,” I thought and dialed her number.
Doris and I chatted about our neighborhood. She’s lived here a long time and as she was reminiscing about life on our street I imagined her children, who are now middle-aged like me, running barefoot though the grass in my front yard where my daughter’s pink bicycle now stands propped up against the old oak tree firmly planted through it all.
“I just don’t know my neighbors anymore,” she confided. “And, it makes me sad. We used to all know each other.”
Thank you, Jesus. My heart pounded.
Doris continued, “What if we were to have a coffee? Do you think the neighbors would come?” She shared her idea — the one that had been nudging her since church.
“I think a coffee would be a fabulous idea, Doris! Yes, I think people would come. May I help you plan it?”
“That would be wonderful. I can bring scones or cookies,” Doris offered.
We hung up the phone and I called my friend Mandy who lives three doors up. I shared Doris’ idea and we sprang into action. Every neighborhood should have a saint like Mandy who organizes gatherings and keeps us all connected. We opted for a mid-morning coffee, knowing many of the women on our street were retired and home during the day. Mandy created the invitations and two weeks before our coffee date I hand delivered them to the 34 houses on our immediate street.
The morning I delivered the invitations I intended to ring each doorbell and hoped I would have the opportunity to extend the invitation to the coffee in person. As if perhaps the invitation needed explanation. Irrational fears — what if they don’t know who I am? What if the time isn’t convenient? What if the invitation gets wedged together with a piece of junk mail, inadvertently gets tossed out, she never sees it and feels left out?
God sends affirmations of our actions in small ways.
I spent 30 minutes in the cozy living room of the first neighbor’s home talking. And, 20 in the kitchen of my neighbor four doors down. They were excited about the coffee and grateful Doris had the idea. I admit I had to stop ringing doorbells in order to make it to carpool on time. But, as I quickly and quietly slipped invitations in mailboxes, I prayed.
Lord, bring us together. Start something fresh and anew for your glory. Right here in our neighborhood. On this very street. Knit us together. Remind us the value of community.
Sixteen women came.
For two and a half hours conversation flowed. We ate sand tarts and Sprite Cake and talked about matters big and small.
I paused and imagined God with great big beautiful eyes looking straight into my kitchen and smiling as we talked about family, the neighborhood, and our need for one another.
We have our next coffee planned. The date hasn’t been set yet, but each of the women volunteered to host. Manju offered to teach us to cook in her kitchen using authentic curry and spices from India. Betty offered a happy hour so that we might expand our circle to working women. Kay sent a handwritten thank you note and said her home was open anytime for the neighbors.
Community matters. Neighbors matter.
Open up your door and let God do the rest.