Love your neighbor.

Bernie on a Journey - Part 11 - September 6, 2019


If you had watched last week’s Wednesday learning on Instagram, you would have seen that I feel convicted to leave more space for rest in my schedule - instead of always running ragged. While this is a noble sentiment that I plan to enact in the future - I have several weeks packed full of commitments before I put those ideas into practice. 

In the meantime, I am trying to live intentionally, remaining fully present and engaged even amidst a hectic schedule, rather than just living to check off items on my lists.

This past week included: participating in a moving project, volunteering at a food bank, volunteering by delivering sack lunches to houses over the weekend, volunteering at the West Central Home and Garden Tour and Arts Fest. 

I explained my WC service in last week’s vlog:  

So why exactly am I telling you this? And what in the world am I trying to accomplish by being involved in so many things?

I am attempting to understand (and even live in) the 5 neighborhoods I am researching. Neighborhoods are dynamic, growing organisms that must be continually assessed and engaged with. It is like any relationship, it requires an investment of time and oneself in order to foster trust. Each neighborhood’s activity looks a bit different than the others, which is why I have had to think of where I can partake in the neighborhood, whether that be frequenting local businesses, signing up to volunteer at local events or with non-profits in the area, or listening at city meetings to understand the issues impacting the neighborhoods. 

NeighborLink’s desire is to build relationships and amplify the voices of the vulnerable. Unless, we meet those in vulnerable populations, we will fail to do that. It can be a bit difficult to find authentic ways to engage others, therefore, I have looked for creative ways to be present in the neighborhoods to earn trust and build relationships in order to better see where we can partner and empower the neighborhoods. 

When serving in Pettit-Rudisill at the food bank or by delivering food to homes, I tried to notice details about people’s lives and current living situations in order to connect with people rather than just knowing the statistics of the area. It also opened my eyes to the character of the houses and community, seeing the camaraderie among residents and seeing the families supporting each other.

While serving at West Central’s Home and Garden Tour and Arts Fest, I looked for instances of personal connection. What were they doing in this event that served to build up the community? How did the neighborhood come together to make such a large event happen? I realized the only way it could have happened was that all the neighbors had to pull together, contribute, and invest their time in their neighborhood.  It encouraged me that all neighborhoods can achieve their goals if they organize, build on strengths and partner with other local organizations. 

Being present in each neighborhood and getting to know residents with all their unique talents and abilities, gives me joy and excitement about the future of each one. All this excitement is part of what makes me overfill my schedule. However, I have come to realize, if I don’t give myself breathing room, I will not be able to engage with neighbors as intentionally as I want to. By setting limits, by allowing more time in my schedule for rest, I can make my service year more impactful, while still being engaged in many various ways.