Giving/letting go 4

If you’re interested in a follow-on dialogue to the issue of violence in the USA, please go to the previous post (13 Jan.) and click on the comments link at the bottom right of that post.

The attitude of generosity can be expressed in all of our relationships through giving attention and listening deeply. During the upheaval that the floods in Brisbane (and the rest of Queensland) are causing, people need to talk and to be listened to. Everyone’s got stories of tragedy and triumph that we are eager to tell and to hear. According to a friend who knows, the main reason the floods haven’t caused an upsurge in post-traumatic stress is that it’s a communal catastrophe. It didn’t just happen to ME, it happened to all of us.

Likewise, when we really listen to another person, we have to let go of the idea that it’s all about ME.

This is where I wanted to go next with the conversation, to neighbors being generous with neighbors. Obviously, when there’s a crisis, a contagion of helping occurs, wonderfully. In day to day life, it takes a special effort to keep track of one’s neighbors (if they’ll allow it). My husband and I have lived in our current home for five years now. We know our neighbors on both sides by name, and have shared phone numbers. We generally inform each other if we’ll be out of town for more than a couple of days. We recognize and have short chats with two other families on the block when we’re outside.

One of my sisters lives in a cul-de-sac where the neighborhood generosity circle is more developed than any other I’ve seen or heard of. I sat with her and her husband and a neighbor on their adjoining lawn one summer evening, the power having been knocked out by a thunderstorm 36 hours earlier. There was wine and laughter (and mosquitoes), and several neighbors stopped by with news of the other families on the block.

If we are to live in community with our neighbors, someone has to make an effort. What could we do to give up some of our personal space and time to attend to those who just happen to live nearby?

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