Ah the benefits of living in a close Community!
Recently I was reminded of how wonderful living in a community that is connected can be. You see, my father recently suffered the tragic loss of sight. The impact of this has been immense, but so too has been the out-pouring of care and concern from their neighbours.
Do you remember the TV show The Simpsons, and the friendly do-gooder neighbour named Ned Flanders? The character was over the top and incredibly annoying, but his heart was big and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his neighbours. I have taken to calling my parents neighbours the Flanders without the annoying. Over the past year the ‘Flanders’ have shown compassion in many ways, from delivering meals to assisting in medications to driving to appointments. One couple even shared weekly vegetables from their own garden! During a recent snow storm, the Flanders ensure that my parents drive was always clear and checked in to see if they could eliminate any need for them to go out by doing shopping etc.
It has been eye opening to witness this care and compassion that seems to flow freely from neighbours who previously only had drive-way interactions during the summer months. I have been left wondering if there are times when my neighbours have been in need and I have been too busy to be the “Flanders”. I believe that each person has a deep desire to be in community of some form. For some that is within family others teams or groups etc. Most of our neighbourhoods however, don’t encourage the building of community due to design. If you live in a newer community you probably drive into your attached garage, close the door and go into your home – we all do. But typically this detracts from the casual interactions that occur in our drive-ways and on our streets. I’m not saying that all communities are flawed, but rather I am pondering how each of us could make them better. During the flood recovery this summer, many of us witnessed a similar outpouring of care and compassion. It’s easy to move away from this generous spirit as the need appears to be filled, but everyday in every community there are people who are in need of care they just don’t often speak up.
As the Christmas season is upon us, perhaps this is the perfect time for you to consider becoming the ‘Flanders’ of your neighbourhood. It doesn’t have to be grandiose gestures, perhaps its shoveling your neighbours walk way or popping by with some cookies. You never know how your actions as the Flanders, may just make their season a little brighter.