A few weeks ago, the house across the street sold. Last week, a single gentleman moved in. A new neighbor. Folks who know my gregarious disposition would not be surprised that I went over the first time I saw him and introduced myself. I love meeting new people. But the arrival of a new neighbor in one’s immediate vicinity warrants a bit more, I believe.
I got on my not-often-used group chat with some long-time residents on my street – a couple of families I could count on for neighborliness – and asked if they were available this Sunday. They were. We agreed on a time. I then went across the street and asked if our new resident could join us at that time on Sunday. He could. The date was set!
We then broadened the circle and asked a few more families, all belonging to adjacent or near-adjacent homes on our little strip of the road. We were planning on providing refreshments ourselves, but folks immediately started volunteering them: cupcakes from one, a bottle of wine from another. Even the new neighbor anted up with humus and veggies!
Yesterday arrived and we had six families in total including the newbie, ages 1 – 72. After most had arrived, Elsie nudged me and reminded me that introductions might be in order. So we gathered briefly, I let the new guy on the block introduce himself first, followed by a representative from each of the other families. This was important because even though the next newest had been living there for two years already, many of us didn’t know them well. And lo and behold, I discovered some original owners (from 1985) who lived three houses away on the other side of the street who I had never met!
We then dug into the appetizers and into engaging conversation. The joy was palpable, the time generous, and the fellowship divine! People lingered most of the afternoon, gladly making new acquaintances and catching up on neighbors they hadn’t connected with in a while. Our new neighbor’s comment via text that evening: “What a great neighborhood we have!”
One could say creating community in the neighborhood is altruistic. Maybe. But there are selfish reasons too: you never knew when you’re going to need the help of a neighbor – to have your back for a landscaping project, pick up the mail on your vacation, or, God forbid, in a real emergency: you really don’t want to be introducing yourself for the first time while your house is on fire!
Neighbors are important. Loving them is a Biblical mandate. It’s not the primary community for most families in urban or suburban residential areas but worth a little effort every once in a while to maintain and nurture. And when someone new moves in across the street, no one will ask why you’re having a welcome party: it will seem like the most natural thing on earth!