Going on my evening walks, I often notice the homes in my neighborhood with a front porch. Before the days of air conditioning, I am told, front porches were the natural way to cool off and connect with neighbors. Sitting on the porch, neighbors would share lemonade, stories and laughter. But these days, I don’t see that same kind of neighborliness going on — at least around the front porches I pass by each evening.
There’s something about a front porch that makes me nostalgic for something. Is it the lemonade, the simplicity, or the connection with neighbors? Growing up in the country, my next door neighbors were my great-grandparents. Not a day would go by without stopping by to say hello, to share produce from the garden or to “help” great-grandma with the fresh baked cookies coming out of the oven — even in the heat of summer. Is it me, or has it become more difficult to connect with neighbors?
In Minnesota, where summer heat is a commodity, we relish these dog days of summer. Many people go “up North” to cabins, for camping or hiking. Quiet weekend neighborhoods signal the exodus of neighbors to one of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota where adventure lies.
I long for the days when neighbors return this fall, at the beckoning of work and school, to catch up with these neighbors. As Christians, we are called to know our neighbors deeply, and not just the surface level stuff, but the real stuff of our lives — the stuff we would rather tuck away in a garage or closet than display on the front porch for all the neighborhood to see. This is part of our call as Christians. It is the yoke we carry when we follow Jesus.
In Steve MacDouell’s post on neighborliness, he writes, “When we are present, hospitable, and open to deeper relationships, we will discover the story that is unfolding in our neighborhoods—a story in which we are invited to be a character.”
This fall as neighbors start returning home after a summer of adventure, join me in getting out of my comfort zone to become the neighbor I want to be — one who can be the hands and feet of Jesus right here in my neighborhood.
How will you be the neighbor you want to be? Will warm cookies or garden produce be the ice breaker to a closer relationship? Will your front porch or yard be a meeting place for the love of Jesus? Share your tips here!