Recently my mother in law and sister in law were out here for a visit and during their stay I was constantly reminded that our little Kansas town is very much like Mayberry.
My mother in law always made sure her car and the guest house she was staying in was locked when they left. I kept trying to convince her that it wasn't necessary. Heck, one of the town cops left for the weekend and left his house unlocked. I know because I fed his dog. The churches in this town are always unlocked. I don't worry if my kids ride their bikes around town without me. My mother in law was even surprised to find the high school track was left open for people to use at all hours. She's sure if her town had left the school track accessible that people would be driving on it.
Although we've only lived here a year our little town has been extremely welcoming and looking out for us though we didn't know it. When we went to Oklahoma for the weekend a friend from another town came and checked on our dog but the poor guy was confronted by a couple of people wanting to know why he was in our house! One of those good Samaritans looking out for us I had barely ever spoken to.
Over the 4th of July weekend our dog was spooked by the fireworks and had ran off for a few days before we found her. Because of the holiday we couldn't get "lost dog" posters hung in the community right away but that didn't stop people from knowing our dog was gone and they were the lookout for her.
In the day and age where Americans are fiercely independent and anxious about their privacy (especially online) you might imagine that living in my small town of 900 residents where everyone knows your business would be aggravating. However, I've found it extremely comforting and peaceful because the people in my community aren't nosy or gossips but are truly caring individuals who care for their town and the people, friends and strangers, who live here. And the attitude of this town makes me want to go out of my way to help others.
I am reminded of the early Christian communities who came together to share everything they owned and to look out for and care for the needs of other believers. Although it didn't work out quite the way they had planned I imagine they might have had similar contentment within their communities, at least for a while.
I haven't always lived in towns so Mayberryish. I have definitely lived in places where I never met my next door neighbor much less trusted the community enough to leave my doors unlocked. However, if I ever move away from this little corner of Kansas, I do believe I will have a different point of view about community. In the future, I hope I can get to know my neighbors and be a better caretaker of my community, where ever it may be.
So I ask you, do you know your neighbor??
Do you look out for them? What can we share with our communities to make them a better place? How can we build a place where no one ever has to lock their doors again?
Dear Lord, Thank You for our neighbors; the ones we know and the ones we haven't yet met. Thank You for the opportunity to make our communities a better place to live...just by looking out for one another. Amen.