An unfamiliar car was parked out front. I could hear the sound of a vacuum through an open window. The front door was open too, and the house looked so … empty.
It’s a house accustomed to being full. Full of childish voices, full of friends popping in and out, full of life.
I’ve spent many an hour there, visiting with other moms while children play. Talking long on the front steps after Bible study. Meeting in the driveway for walks and outings. Hurriedly dropping off my girls so I could rush off to work.
It’s weird how something so small—a friend moving to another neighbourhood not far away at all—can make you think so deep. And perhaps it’s because two little girls kept me up most of the night and I’m tired, or perhaps it’s because I’m naturally prone to emotion, but I got a little misty-eyed as I walked by that empty house today.
It seems kind of silly, right?
The same thing happened when my favourite neighbourhood shop closed down. There were many memories attached to that place—story times with the kids, long chats with the owner, hours spent browsing gently-used clothing. I choked up then too.
But maybe it’s not actually all that silly.
You see, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s not about buildings or places but community. The ability to create an atmosphere of community is a special gift.
I often feel like I need to get everything perfect before I can invite people into my heart space or into my home. I’m embarrassed by the grittiness of life. But in order for people to feel free to come as they are, I need to first be free to come as I am.
It’s something that both my friend-around-the-corner and my shop-owner friend have demonstrated beautifully. My friend’s house was more than a house. It was a hub. Same with the little neighbourhood shop. There was nothing fake about their hospitality. By inviting you into their space, they invited you to live life alongside them. No excuses, no pretenses. Come as you are.
Although it has been a while since I’ve wandered over to my friend’s house, that community atmosphere is something that I’ll miss having just around the corner and something that I need to be better at creating in my own home.
If we’re honest, in a world of Instagram filters and Facebook highlights, it’s something that many of us probably need to be better at. We need to worry less about perfection and focus more on simply loving others where they’re at—and where we’re at.
So my goal this summer?
To provide a haven for the broken, the whole and everyone in between. To pretend less and love more. To open my heart space and my home space, and to offer the gift of gritty, come-as-we-are hospitality—the gift of community.
Will you join me?