Stories of Neighboring from the Reservoir Community (All)
May 26, 2016
Thanks so much for sharing your stories of neighboring this season – may they continue to grow and expand with Jesus in the midst!
“This week my son dragged my daughter and me out of the house early (even before my hair was done) and we all still had our pajamas on. I’m so glad he did though, because we met a neighbor whom we haven’t spoken to since we moved in 2 years ago. It turns out she’s 90 and she’s lonely. That was her primary word she used. She was out for her morning walk before the rain came. “
“Last night, I had a great dream about working side by side in a kitchen next to my grumpy neighbor across the street who I spy on all the time. In the dream he struck up a conversation with me as if we’d been talking forever. It was a great dream 🙂 Praying that it will be a reality.”
“This week I asked the little girl I was babysitting how she knew if someone was a neighbor. She answered, “Because they always say: “May I come in?” This was meaningful to me to think about neighboring as an invitation into something more – our lives, each other’s stories.”
“We had been told that Mrs L wasn’t very friendly, was actually rather grumpy. A year or two after moving in, we did some renovations at our place that required a big dumpster in our driveway. Mrs. L would be staring at that ugly dumpster for a few months, so I thought it would be neighborly to let her know ahead of time. I think she was surprised that anyone would reach out. She invited me in for a cup of tea and I got to hear her story. Turns out she isn’t grumpy or mean, she was grieving the death of her beloved husband. Neighboring reminds me that everyone has a story.”
“This week I looked up and made eye contact with my neighbor on the other side of the street – AND – I actually waved. This is a significant step in the context of our neighboring relationship”.
“For my five year-olds birthday party, recently, she invited a bunch of classmates including a girl we hadn’t spent much time with. Not tons of lines of difference between us, but I wanted to connect with the girl’s dad because his family is from Mexico and Amelia’s school tends to have outsized presence from white, upper-income families. As soon as we invite the girl, her family immediately sent an invitation to her own birthday, around the same time. We went and had a ball—just a few families, mostly their friends who had also immigrated from Mexico. So the party was a really new and valuable experience for Amelia—her first tres leches b-day cake, her first pinata—we loved it. I was really grateful Amelia had a chance to learn about the world and we got to build a bigger bridge.”
“God totally opened up play with our neighbors next door who although we have boys the same age they barely played for the first three years we lived here. We talked a few times with the other couple about putting a hole in the fence or removing it all together but it never happened. Finally our more extroverted 4 year old started talking to them over the fence more and more and we finally decided to build some sort of platform so that he would stop climbing on the bunny hutch to talk to them. The next day we came home from church, saw some wood on the street being put out for trash and thought we could use it to build a platform. Low and behold it is a castle play house that has been taken apart. We dragged it over and my husband put it back together and put it up against the fence and installed a door leading over the fence to our neighbors yard. They bought at cargo net and attached it to their side of the fence, since then the boys went from playing a few times a year to almost every day. We could have never built a castle that cool – God totally gave us the castle and opened up friendship where we were struggling.”
“Our neighborhood should be perfect for kids. We live on a dead end, and there’s a family across the street from us with boys the same age as ours. They’ve been living there as long as we have, but somehow the kids never felt free to just hang out together without adults involved. Then a couple years ago a new family moved in next door, also with kids the same age. Those kids weren’t at all shy about coming over and asking our boys or our other neighbors out to play, and their example catalyzed all the neighborhood kids to be more open and invitational; now they’re all outside together most afternoons. We feel so grateful to be living somewhere with such an old-school feel, and I hope next time we find ourselves in a situation where the community isn’t as open and welcoming as it could be, we could be the catalysts!”
“I’ve been praying about more opportunities to meet my neighbors – where there just hasn’t seemed like there are any natural/organic opportunities. Since I’ve been praying over the last 2 weeks – I’ve seen my neighbors across the street – more than I can remember. I’m not sure if I’m just more aware to see them now – or if God is orchestrating moments of intersection. Either way – I’m totally encouraged!” (Now to do something about it).
“My husband and I love our local magazine, Scout Somerville, and so I finally decided to sink the money into a real subscription. When I put in the credit card info, it had a spot to write a note and I wrote that I hoped that my order would be processed in time to get the May/June issue. The editor in chief, responded with “absolutely” and she said that she lives on my street (like 10 houses down)! So I emailed her back and asked her to be better neighbors.”
“This week as I walked down the hall of my apartment building, I looked up and actually asked my neighbor what his name is. From now on – I look forward to engaging with him – by name – the next time I see him”
“The Mayor lives down the street from us. I decided to ask to partner with him in more efforts toward making our neighborhood feel like a community. I just put in the mailbox a letter addressed to ‘My Mayor and Neighbor’, asking him if my husband and I can partner with him to make Ten Hills (our little section of Somerville) into a more “neighbor-y” place.”
“I put together a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” bag – inclusive of the fun spinach plant I picked up at the Dome table last week!”
“This year, I’ve been praying for my kids’ teachers and school administrators as part of our churches “pray for your 6” practice. Recently, I gave four of them a thank you note with a $10 Starbucks gift card, reminding them that I pray for them regularly and am rooting for their joy and their success. All of them made a point of telling me, in person or in writing, how much it meant to them. One of them wrote me a thank you email, saying my card “brought tears to his eyes,” which has led to further conversation and a move from acquaintance toward friendship. It’s been really rewarding and really worth the $40 cost!”
“I dropped a swiss chard plant at my neighbor’s house this morning!”
“Every year there is a block party on our street. Every year my family and I hide inside of our house. But this year I decided to go to the Block Party planning meeting. I immediately sign up to do the pinata, the compost bag, the bubbles….etc. I do think that’s how to get to know my neighbors more, by “giving”. I am very protective of my time, so taking this step is a big step for me to go and do something for the block party, I kept saying “no” every year and this year actually I have a perfect excuse to say “no” with a newborn, but I said “yes” to myself.”
“I brought a spinach plant to my Bangladesh neighbor. I was hoping her mom would be home because she likes to garden – but it was the daughter who answered the door. Neither of us speak each other’s language – but it was fun to bring the pot of spinach without this obvious ease of communication.”
“Cambridge City Councilor dropped by today and asked me what we do to help our congregation be resilient and we got into a discussion about neighboring. He’s interested in possibly making “neighbor day” an official Cambridge thing.”
“The editor of the Scout Magazine emailed me back and we’re planning on getting dinner (she, her roommate, my husband, and me) to talk about some ideas of making our place more neighborhoody. WOW. They are young renters and haven’t met anyone in the few months they’ve been here and have been missing the same things we have from their last community. I think a first step will be that they and we will create a facebook page.”
“I took a pansy plant over to my neighbor who I haven’t seen in 2 months – she was so happy she gave me a huge hug!”
“I started teaching a “Moving Meditation” yoga class at Reservoir Church in January. It’s a community group, so there’s no fee, but I suggested that people give whatever they felt it was worth. I promised that all proceeds would be donated to charity, in the spirit of loving our neighbors. I finally got around to counting it last night. This group raised $250, which I happily just sent to Samaritans”!
“I’ve been trying to not feel pressure to do anything in this neighboring season that doesn’t resonate, and since my current neighborhood has never resonated (the fact I’m moving in July seemed to solidify that), I’ve been focusing my efforts on other “neighbors” (near the church, near my family, etc.). Tonight I was sitting in the backyard talking toa friend on the phone when I heard/saw my neighbor taking out the trash. We waved “hi” across the yard and then I made a game time decision and hung up on my friend and scrambled up the little embankment between our yards to say a proper hello. In our 15 minutes of talking, I learned her name!, we discovered common interests (yoga), I invited myself to her mindfulness workshop in the fall (she said yes :)), and we are scheduling dinner with this young Italian couple she was recently introduced to who are new to Boston. I’m so happy I said hello! I wish I had done it sooner! What an amazing neighbor I have!”
“My husband and I were out for a walk with our toddler. As we were walking our toddler stopped by some of the flowers and shrubbery of my neighbor. It was apparent that my neighbor was watching from her window, as she started pounding on her window and motioning for us to move away from her plants with a very mean expression. We were slightly shocked and a little offended. However, the next Sunday at church – I felt like God was suggesting I drop one of the “Dome Table” plants off at her door. I left the plant and a short note – expecting to hear nothing in return. A couple of days later – I receive a long typed letter from our neighbor – apologizing and acknowledging her crankiness and extending the offer for our toddler to pick flowers whenever she wanted.”
“I’m a middle-school teacher. This week I was walking my class back to our classroom from a different area of the school. A fellow teacher came out of her classroom extremely angry at the noise level of my class. She directed all of the anger at me and quickly stormed back into her own classroom. Instead of reacting in a retaliatory nature – I decided to email her and apologize for the noise. She immediately responded by coming to my room and hugging me!”
“I recently broke up with my boyfriend. A few days after the break-up, I decided to go to a morning Zumba class at my local gym that I’ve been going to for several years. Zumba isn’t a class I usually attend – but as soon as the music started I found myself being able to process some of the break-up through emotion. At the end – I told the class of 60 women how meaningful the time was with them. Many of these women came and hugged me and offered their phone numbers to me after this moment!”
“I took two plants from the Dome table to my neighbors in my apartment building and they both were wonderfully happy!”
“I was gardening out front in my yard this week and met a neighbor and his family – that I had never met before! They asked a simple question about one of my flowers and this spurred on a great conversation”.
“After the first 3 sermons in this Neighboring Series – I had a dream, where I felt God said two specific words to me, “Welcome Often”. These two words were incredibly moving to me and I know it was because of this season we are in as a church”.
“We have had some issues in the past with the apartment above us and the noise level of their music – particularly at our toddler’s bedtime. My husband and this neighbor have had some difficult conversations in the past – and yet we’ve tried to push through and have good conversations with these neighbors. We took a plant from the Dome table and gave this to our neighbors – and it felt so good to offer this as a way to cement our good vibes and spirit to stay friendly.”
“We share a garden plot with a neighbor in our building. We decided to take a plant from the Dome table and plant it on our neighbor’s side of the garden. She was so thankful and it opened up deeper conversation with her – where we had never gone before. I didn’t think this plant would really offer much – but with God behind this inclination to ‘love your neighbor’ – it was evident that He was at work”.
If you break the ice, even stubborn people will melt away their ‘stranger-ness.’ People are loving and considerate and friendly—but you have to create an environment for that. Once you take initiative, there is endless bounty. Malik and Abida have been breaking the ice in North Cambridge for 32 years.
People here are really, really nice. They’re open. My friends come from all different places: they’re Jamaican, Indian, Ethiopian, Haitian. You think about it and you’re like, ‘That’s cool.’ Samuel (13) is probably on the basketball court or over at Apple Cinemas.
I’ve loved getting to know my North Cambridge neighbors this year through this church and Garden Club. It is a rich community full of diversity and culture – and the afternoons spent outdoors pulling weeds and running around with the kiddos from the Fresh Pond Apartments were some of my favorite from last summer!Teagan shares her love of fresh produce in and with the neighborhood.
This neighborhood regularly brings me into contact with folks I may not otherwise meet and brings me into dialogue about culture and connection. I love the smallest moments when, after knowing someone for awhile, you catch a glimpse of a very rich, gorgeous person you didn’t see before, perhaps recognizing where your eyes were limited along the way. Christianne is an all-star soccer coach in North Cambridge.
The neighborhood is fun and it has fun things! Sometimes my neighbors talk really loud, but they are still nice and their kids are cute. Naomi (5) and Leah (7) are always quiet and have lived in North Cambridge their whole lives.
“I took my neighbor some cookies that I made. I never see this neighbor. So I just left them in her mailbox. She returned a hand-written note of her thankfulness and how much she loves seeing my son run around outside – because it reminds her of her children 15 years ago!”
“I saw my neighbor returning home to her apartment with her twin toddlers. We were having a BBQ and I invited her over to have some food. She declined. So I decided to take her a couple of plates of food – upon doing this – she truly opened up about the difficulties of her current life situation. It seemed like she just needed a kind action extended her way – to truly open up.”
We have neighbors who’ve lived across the street from us for 7 years. We haven’t, ever, formally introduced ourselves… (unless you count the one time we exchanged car insurance information when I backed into their parked car.) Last night, as people were arriving for our community group, I caught sight of the mom and two kids heading into their house – I ran across the street – planning to say, “I’m so sorry it’s taken us so long to introduce ourselves”…. But instead my first words were ,”I’m so sad….” (awkward pause)…I quickly filled the rest of the sentence with…”because I’ve been such an unaware neighbor…” I then invited them over on Monday, when we’ll be hosting an “open neighbor BBQ” of sorts. The mom was delighted, shared the ways she too, felt like a”bad” neighbor…and the girls were wanting to go in our backyard immediately. As I’ve been praying over this 6 week season of Neighboring, I’ve seen these folks numerous times and felt the tug to talk to them (but pushed hard to ignore!).. I’m glad it’s never too late, and arguably never too awkward.
Thanks Everyone! And may Jesus’ words continue to vibrate throughout your days:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22: 37-38 (NIV)