Keeping Our Hands to The Plow


“This grass is pretty much DEAD.” I heard my neighbor mutter to herself from my open window.

As I peered from my upstairs window, I saw her struggle in our front yard to set up the sprinkler.

A little context about me and Laura’s place in the lovely Ramona neighborhood. It’s located at the very end of a town home complex. What makes our building unique is that we share a big lawn with a couple of our neighbors.

When we moved in June. The grass was completely dead. Brown and dry. No signs of life. I figured it was pointless to try to bring it back to its former glory.

So here I stood watching in amazement as my neighbor is watering our grass! I thought it was pretty cool, but I wasn’t sure it would work.

Later on in the week when I ran into her again, I asked her what prompted her to start watering the grass.

This neighbor in particular has lived in the complex the longest (over 10 years) She explained to me that the lawn used to be beautiful and well taken care of but recently it has fallen into despair and neighbors just stopped caring for it. She just wanted to make it look nice again, even if it meant watering it every day.

A light bulb went off in my head. I talked to her about us making a schedule to water the grass together.

Since we moved in, one of my biggest struggles and questions when it came to building authentic relationships with my neighbors was How in the world do I get past that initial awkwardness and small talk?!

You know what I’m talking about. The awkward moment when you see a neighbor and you stop to make small talk and it lasts for a minute or two and then you completely run out of questions to ask or things to say so you stand there in awkward silence. Then you awkwardly excuse your self and retreat to your house and cry over that horrible experience over a giant tub of chocolate ice cream and try to regroup?

Wait. Is that just me? No, this scenario doesn’t happen to me all the time. Okay, if you can’t tell, I like to incorporate sarcasm and humor in my writing (often I do a poor job!) so please bear with me! J

But the point is, overcoming this has been at times very, very frustrating.

But working out a schedule to water the grass with my neighbor gave me an opportunity to potentially develop a deeper relationship with her just by taking the next step and offering to DO something with her. And when you think about it, aren’t the best relationships formed when you work towards a specific goal?

I will share that the first couple of weeks in the Ramona neighborhood had been rough. New people, a new environment. We were the new kids on the block. It seemed hopeless. I had a beautiful vision for this neighborhood. A thriving neighborhood where people felt known, loved, and cared for. Where relationships were based on empowering and encouraging each other. I wanted to pour into others as well as learn from my neighbors. I was confused how God would work through Laura and I to achieve this vision. 

But he is. Even in the past two weeks alone, God has blessed us with amazing opportunities to interact with our neighbors. And what is even more amazing is that many our fellow neighbors are believers who have encouraged us to keep our hand to the plow and strive and preserve to provide a glimpse of kingdom in our own back yard.

So how does all this connect with community development? Just like our dead grass…we must tend to it. Taking the time to care for it by watering it, assessing its needs, getting our hands dirty etc. But most of all we must have patience.

I do desire for one day our neighborhood to be a thriving place just like those I read in all those amazing community development books. But just because I can’t see it yet, doesn’t mean that God isn’t in the Ramona neighborhood. He’s been here long before me and Laura moved in.

My prayer is that we can work along side our neighbors tend to the ‘yard’ and make it a place of growth and life.

And just for the record, it’s only been two weeks since we started watering the grass daily and it sure is green!

Keeping my hand to the plow,
Rachel
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