Gratitude Day 529
Sat., Oct. 31, 2020
Hebrews 10:24-25 – Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.
For nearly all of my life, I have lived a rural, Midwestern lifestyle. I grew up on a farm that was eight miles from town where we attended school and church. When Dad went to the local feed mill, he often stopped at the local coffee shop to catch up on the latest “news.” Later, my folks moved to town.
I haven’t lived near this rural community for decades. When I return to visit, there are those who knew my parents and can make the connection. My younger sister owns and operates a flower shop in town. On occasion, I have been mistaken for her. Someone will tell me how beautiful the flowers were at so-and-so’s funeral or wedding, assuming I’m the flower shop owner.
During college, I lived in a city of 250,000; a HUGE difference from the 2,000 people community I grew up in. A couple times, I have lived in a city of about 1 million people. While there was more choices and access in these larger communities, it wasn’t really my cup of tea.
Much of my adult life, I have lived in rural communities, whether in town or in the country. For the last five years, Hubby Rick and I have lived in a town of about 2,000 people. We know our neighbors and our neighbors know us. More than once on Halloween as I’m handing out candy to the kids, I can hear the adults say to each other, “She’s the pastor at one of the churches in town.”
While our little village of Poynette doesn’t have a people doctor in town, there are many amenities which I take advantage of because I want to be part of our local community. Recently, it happened again, and our little community did not let me down.
Earlier this week, an intense, very sharp pain developed in my left hip area. Convinced that I could deal with the pain, I basically kept going. Until one night when the pain became excruciating and I contemplated driving myself to urgent care. Convinced the pain was in the muscle, I felt there would be little a doctor would do for me.
The next morning, I called the local chiropractor’s office. While I had never been to see Dr. Hall professionally, I knew her, and she knows me. At an appointment that afternoon, she explained to me that my left hip has twisted out of position. A significant amount of unhappy nerves in the area are causing the intense pain.
Had I lived in a larger community where I didn’t know a single chiropractor, would have I been able to get an appointment so quickly? Possibly. But how would have I known who to call? I could have looked online for reviews. But when I could barely sit or stand, and lying down was terribly painful, it was much easier to contact the local chiropractor’s office where I know the folks … and they know me.
Sitting in Dr. Hall’s office made me appreciate once again the small community where we live. When I walk into the local library, the folks behind the desk have my items waiting to be checked out on the counter by the time I get there … because they know me. If something at the post office should be done a little differently, Theresa sends a note to our mailbox just because. Once a month, I visit Angie for self-care in the form of a massage. When I told her about my very painful hip, she worked me into her schedule this week. Just because.
While in our local grocery store, I often see the store manager, Dave. Basically the Walmart greeter at our Piggly Wiggly, Dave stops what he is doing and makes sure we have what we need for the local food program that I head up; even though I’m not the person who regularly orders food. He reminds me that I can call him anytime.
A few years ago, a significant amount of money was embezzled from the church that I was serving at the time. Unfortunately, it happened through the local bank. No one felt more awful about what happened than the bank president and staff. For weeks, I felt like the bank president and I were on speed dial, helping me navigate the situation. In a previous year when I could walk through the school buildings, students would rush up to me and say, “Hi Pastor Dianne!” Or I’d get a little handwave my direction.
Do these things happen in communities larger than 2,000? Probably. Yet, this week, I was reminded again how living in a community where people know your name feels good. Right. Comforting when you have a problem that needs fixing … and you can’t do the fixing.
Yes, we don’t have a movie theater in town. I long for a coffee/ice cream shop with outdoor seating during the summer months. The hardware store closed a couple years ago. Hubby Rick still laments about not being able to go six blocks for something that he needs.
I’ll be honest. I’ve done my fair share of shopping at big box stores and Amazon definitely knows where we live. But I remember what my Dad said so often, “Shop local, even if you pay a little more. It’s worth it to have a local store.” And so, we do try to support businesses in our community because, well, we want businesses to be here when a hip is creating all kinds of havoc in one’s life.
Community comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s something that Jesus spoke of regularly, especially with his disciples. He longed for them to continue to have a strong sense of community whether he was physically present with them or not.
These days, community can feel difficult. Impersonal. Challenging. Yet if we look for community and are willing to take time to appreciate those around us, community can still be found. We just need to be a bit more creativity these days.
As the holiday season approaches, I pray we remember our community businesses and support them. Yes, sometimes it IS easier to place an order at midnight online. But there maybe a day when you need a hip looked at. And Costco can’t help with this.
Not sure how to include a local business in your holiday fare this year? Simply pick up the phone, call and ask them. Often, these businesses will deliver within reason. Or make special arrangements for contactless pick-up. One of the words I’m using a lot these days is “creative.” Yes, we just need to be a bit more creative in our thinking, application and follow-through right now.
Whether we can meet together like we’d like or not, we still need each other. I needed Dr. Hall and Angie this week. And they did not disappoint. I thank them and so many others who make living in my rural community so incredibly special. Thank you for knowing my name.
For local community that helps me out, I am grateful.
Dear God – right now, community can feel difficult. Hard. Impossible. I pray we still see the signs of community around us and celebrate them. Likewise, I pray we CHOOSE to offer community to our neighbors who also need community in their lives. Amen.
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