the writings of Sue Berger

A Neighborhood Watched

The sight never ceases to intrigue me. I drive past it several times a week and my eyes rove over the landscape like I expect something to have changed, even though nothing has in several years.

The scene is a subdivision near my home. Several streets laid out in a typical grid and cul-de-sac pattern, nicely curbed & guttered. Underground utilities installed with pedestals sticking up at each house lot. Streetlights standing straight and tall like sentries over the neighborhood. But no houses. None. Hasn’t been for years.

So what draws me to scour the scene every time I drive by? Granted, there’s the mystery of it all. Who started the project? Why don’t they sell the lots? Is the land tied up in a lawsuit? Did the developer die? Is there a toxic dump under it? I soon exhaust all my fictional musings as to the current state of affairs, but still am compelled to examine the scene every time I cruise by.

I become aware of an emotional response I’m having to the empty subdivision. I’m sad that so much work and expense has gone into it; that it isn’t what it was intended to be. I realize that every time I drive by, I’m hoping to see house construction. No, that’s not quite true. I’m expecting to see house construction. It’s the next step. It’s what is intended. There are supposed to be rows of houses, cars parked in driveways, kids skateboarding and riding their bikes, people mowing their grass and walking their dogs. It’s obvious this is supposed to be a living, breathing neighborhood.

But it isn’t. Just dry weed-filled lots. No flowers or manicured lawns. No birds frequenting a sunflower seed filled feeder. No basketball goals on the curb. No sound of swing-set laughter or barking dogs. No aroma of steaks on a backyard grill. No life.

Yet, I yearn for life for this neighborhood. The intent and potential is obvious. Just as obvious as my next line of reasoning is going to be. How much does God yearn over my obvious, under-developed potential? Much has been invested me. The plan laid out, the power lines established. Is my life a pulsing, throbbing community or is it a barren, desolate wasteland? Granted, God loves me in whatever state I’m in, and I’m thankful for that! But what Master Planner doesn’t desire his development to be all he envisions it to be?

However, it doesn’t stop there. I question how I view others around me (yes, that includes you). It’s so easy to see what I perceive to be wasted potential in my neighbors and be critical of how you’re living your life. Wouldn’t that energy be better spent encouraging activity of any sort (preferably legal) over a take-no-risk wasteland? I may not agree with your choice of job, recreation or ministry, any more than I approve of my neighbor’s house-trim color. But so what? Together, we’re a living, breathing community, with all the diversity and creativity that our Developer intended. It certainly beats the alternative.

So, let’s go break some new ground. Take a community college class. Volunteer. Get to know our neighbors. Explore the shops close to our home. Not only can we be an active part of our own community, but the Wind of change will inevitability blow in our souls.

May our personal lives pulse with God-life. May others be drawn by His streetlights of love and peace, the sounds of joy and laughter and the aroma of grace and mercy. Amen.

– Sue Berger

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© 2010 One Pilgrim's Musings

About Sue

From a "normal" childhood with a working dad & stay-at-home mom, to a Bible-college and borderline-cult church; now in the midst of an almost-40-year marriage to my college sweetheart and currently a massage therapist, life is interesting! Through it all, God has been patient, faithful & gracious. I'm pleased to share my life's observations with you. Enjoy!