What makes a community? Have you ever asked yourself that question? For Anthony and me, we have asked ourselves that question very often. Some day we want to welcome children into our life, and this is a huge component for the family life; like they always say, it takes a village! In Arizona, finding a sense of community in the large cookie cutter subdivisions is as likely as finding water in the desert. Most people come home, open their garage doors, pull in and shut them. They wake up the next morning and repeat. This lifestyle erodes the underlying essence of what a community is and should be. Talking to your neighbors, interacting with them and enjoying their company yield a sense of awareness. This brings many benefits, such as decreased crime, safer places for children to play, familial support, and so many more.
When we decided to search for a new home and move out of southern Phoenix it was a community we were searching for, not just a house. Sure, of course we have a great faith-based community and we truly do enjoy the moral foundation that we will someday hopefully be able to share with our children. However, we needed a home that fosters an environment where faith, friendship, and fellowship were able to be lived out. Little did we know that our search would land us in that type of neighborhood!
The first week of our move-in was hectic, as I am sure most of you have experienced. First we had many helpers, and then our closing date was moved up and we had none. What can I say? Spring time in Arizona is beautiful, and people usually have plans weeks in advance. Now cut to moving day with Anthony and I standing at the counter of a budget moving van rental center at 7:50a.m. We had absolutely no coffee, no breakfast, and to take the cake, no 16-foot truck that we had reserved the night before. Needless to say, we were not happy campers! Luck, however, was on our side. After about an hour of waiting around, the sales representative ended up renting us a 12-foot truck for half the price it should have been.
Those three days of moving were absolutely miserable, and by the end of the third day we could barely feel our legs. As we were unloading the last few items from the rental truck, our neighbors on the west side of our property stopped by. Her willingness to reach out to us caught both of us off guard; it had been so long since we had interacted with neighbors on this level, we were not sure how to respond. After a quick chat we were about to get back to work until our neighbor across the street ran over to introduce himself. Again, we didn’t know what was happening; all we could do was look at each other in shock.
Later that night as we were settling down and getting ready for bed, we counseled each other, both of us not knowing what these feelings inside were. All we knew was that we were nervous, anxious, and possibly a bit queasy? We knew one thing for certain: this charade couldn’t be kept up for long! Or so we thought…. Fast forwarding through the next few weeks, we had so many people just drop by our new house (which was quickly becoming a home) to say hello and meet us. We had come to find out that the couple that owned the property before us were a staple; for the younger folks, these are things that hold other things together…. Like paper, for instance, or a community.
We were completely mistaken on so many levels. Firstly, communities do exist in Arizona. Secondly, our neighbors weren’t keeping up a charade! They are true, genuine individuals that care deeply for those around them and look out not only for their own well-being, but the well-being of their neighborhood. Lastly, all those feelings we were having were the physical attributes of years of “subdivisional” thinking leaving our bodies. Take pride in who you are and where you live. You might think you are just one single thread, but I assure you, many woven threads together create a vibrant tapestry, which is the fabric of your community.