By Adam Wade
It’s finally done! It feels like it has been a long time coming. From the discussions about what we would do, to the research and exploration of all the numerous options. From the expert opinions, to the not-so-expert opinions. The decision to go ahead, and the ensuing multiple decisions that followed. From the waiting, and then more waiting, and then more waiting… until finally, our new house was completed.
Well so I thought. I thought that with a new house you can move in, everything’s done, just a small amount of unpacking to do. I thought wrong. Beds to assemble, chairs to pick up, office supplies to buy, couches to be ordered, picture nails placed in brand new walls, and the list carries on.
Yet one thing on the list of ‘to-dos’ has created quite a unique opportunity.
With us living in Aspendale, Melbourne, we are only a few blocks from Port Phillip Bay, so it may not surprise you that our soil is… well… not really soil. It really is sand. Grey sand. And having had a new house built on a vacant block of land means that there has been very little opportunity for grass to grow, so there is plenty of sand. This means landscaping has been a fairly high priority for the front and back yards.
The other day in the late afternoon I was out the front with shovel in hand, reflecting on Steve Veazey’s presentation to the church when I was distracted by Alyssa from across the road. She shouted out and cheered me on as she walked over to visit with Mel next door. She said it was good to see someone was working hard in the street as she had been having a lazy day inside.
After our brief conversation I went back to my digging and again thought how lucky we were to have all our new neighbours be so amazingly friendly and welcoming. We all know each other by name, my boys kick the footy with the kids across the street, and I have yet to go a week when I have not had at least one conversation with each of our neighbours next door and across the road. It really is wonderful!
In the neighbourhood each of us may all have had different reasons for buying there; good location to the shops, close to public transport, liked the schools in the area, all we could afford at the time, or we really wanted that style of house. But, no one chose to live here in these houses because of the person next door or across the road.
Also, each of us are quite different. From the tradie family across the road, to the mixed culture couple next to them, to the elderly lady living now by herself, to the State health workers next door. And with all of this, each could simply just stay inside our own little house and keep to ourselves.
But we don’t. And we are all much richer because we don’t.
We are diverse… yet we are equals. There is a true sense of equal respect, mutual welcome, and instant friendliness. Again with shovel back in hand, the garden beginning to take shape amidst the sand, I again went back to reflecting on Steve’s address to the church. Considering what the church would be like if the sense of being self righteous made way for not just hearing but listening to others. Considering what it would mean to have true unity in the current diversity of our congregations. To engage with the sacraments at a much deeper spiritual level. How would that change our neighbourhood of Christ?
Each and every single person present may be there for a different reason, a different purpose, with their differing background and concepts. As Steve shared, it starts with us, perhaps a simple particle of faith. Each one is a critical part of making us more diverse as a neighbourhood, a community. I know that this community thrives when we embrace our differences and be open to learning from one another, when we are welcoming of one another, when we care for one another.
So let’s not stay inside of our own little houses; let’s venture out and meet the community. Dialogue with them, share with them, care for them, let yourself be cared for, and together let’s create a community of Shalom. A Community of Christ. We all will be much richer for it.
If you are not sure where to start… I’d suggest watching Steve’s address, even if you already have. You can watch it here