It’s easy to stay hidden.
Behind layers of stuff and busyness and front yards with geraniums that are cultivated with Miracle Grow and cut lawns and hair that is done just right and cars that back up and do a courtesy wave and nods to our neighbors.
It sometimes is just this surface thing.
There’s this layer, this buffer of protection, of not letting people really into our lives. Life is messy, and yet, so often we live in a world of masks and facades and we’ve got it all togethers and if you’re like me sometimes you shut the door to your home, and in my case it’s my perfectly picked out rusty red painted door that matched perfectly with the dark coffee brown siding and white front porch, and we shut the curtains and we feel alone.
What happened to the community?
To the women rallying together?
To the neighbors who embraced each other in the journey and gathered together? A once a year block party on National Night Out, even though they’re fun, really doesn’t cultivate community. Even with the rows of noodle salads and chips and kids racing around on their bikes on a street blocked off. It’s a start, but community and friendship runs deeper than sharing hotdogs and burgers together.
Community begins when you and I decide that we’re going to be real.
To share with each other. To open our door to our neighbor and invite her in even if the living room is a mess. And then? Then we’re not going to apologize for the mess. Let me tell you that again – we’re not going to apologize for not having our lives perfectly together.
Do you know why?
When we apologize for real then we are in essence creating the need for the masks and layers and drive for perfection to remain.
When one is real and honest then it frees others to be real and honest.
When I cooked with the women in Haiti not one of them apologized to me for the stains on their skirts. No one said they were having a bad hair day. They didn’t tell me they were sorry that there was a metal thing on the floor that I tripped on. They didn’t apologize for the coal stoves or the smoke that hit my eyes when they added more coals. They welcomed me into their space as they were.
And I realized how much time I spend on things that in a way kept others from seeing the real me.
I don’t want to live that way.
I just wish I could figure out how to adopt the posture of realness from those beautiful Haitian friends of mine in a culture of closed doors. Do you know what I think? I think it starts with each of us. Individually.
When we decide that the friendship is more important than having it all together.
It’s not about venting or lamenting or wallowing in troubles.
It’s about admitting that life is hard or challenging or great or fabulous or boring or whatever it is and then loving our friends where they are and pushing each other to keep trying. Keep moving. We can do all those grand things we see on pinterest or have those geraniums and all of that – we just don’t need to do them so that we feel like we measure up. We can do those things because we enjoy doing those things.
And if we don’t? Or we really don’t care that our house isn’t perfect? Well that’s awesome too. You see there isn’t one right way to be. I like that. I love that the women in Haiti embraced their differences. That some didn’t want to cook certain dishes or that some did the laundry or that others teased me. They embraced the individual beauty of each person and still did community.
Community is powerful.
Let’s reclaim it.
One open door after another after another.
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