I love stories of unexpected kindness. My neighbor, Tracey, who moved here with her family from England two years ago, recently shared a wonderful example of such kindness on her Facebook page.
When they moved into their home, they inherited a lovely tree that sits in their front yard near the sidewalk. Each summer, it produces fruit. A ‘mystery fruit’. Truly, she (and the rest of us) didn’t know exactly what it was, just that it was edible and delicious.
Last week she and her family picked the fruit and decided they had far too much for their own family, so they decided to share it with their neighbors.
What happened next was awesome. (From her Facebook page):
“We love living here – but every now and again something happens to make me realize just how lucky we are. We picked the fruit from the tree in our front yard and left them outside with a sign informing people to help themselves. Just now the doorbell rang and on the step was a man I didn’t know and his 3-year-old daughter. He handed me this basket of plums, with a card, and said it was to thank me for the fruit he took the other weekend. How wonderful!”
What do I have, versus what can I do?
So often in my own quest to build community, I admittedly make things more complicated than they need to be. I often think ‘What can I do?’ Or ‘What can I organize?’ sending me on a journey to find just the right invitations, planning a detailed event, a menu of food, and wracking my brain to determine just the right date that works for everyone.
As I reflected on Tracey’s Mystery Fruit Experience, I thought that perhaps it might be time for me to change the question from “What Can I Do?” to “What do I already have that I can share?”
I already have a backyard, a fire pit and space for several dozen people. Did I really need to run to 3 stores yesterday trying to find just-the-right fall-looking party invites to place on my neighbors’ front porches between 3-5pm on a Sunday afternoon for a 3rd annual block party? Clearly, I have issues.
What do we already have that we can easily and generously share?
- Late-summer lavender that could be harvested and tied in little gift bundles?
- Garden vegetables, flowers or fruit?
- A ladder, power tools, or a cold beer?
So often, isn’t it really the everyday things of life that, when shared, become the important things? Time. A smile. A word of encouragement. A craft or skill. A simple meal. A listening ear. We all have a “Mystery Fruit” to share; something that we already have in abundance. What is yours?
As summer comes to a close and the clouds have started rolling in, let’s think about those easy things we can share with our neighbors – both the legacy friends, and the new family that moved in over the summer. Let’s think about sharing those special “Fruits” that help bring a little more light to the long Northwest winter; those gifts, when given out of plenty, may start or continue a change reaction of neighborliness in each of our communities.