Many in and outside this blog have asked questions about how the block party went and what my overall take on it is. I'm not totally comfortable with the whole "monkeys at the zoo" approach, so I am not going to talk about specific people as though they were behind glass. I would like to comment on some things I have learned about myself and my neighborhood in general.
- It was easy. Having a cookout is a simple activity, when you get down to it. Sure, there are many things to agonize over in the planning stages, but they really don't need to be killers. I tend to live on the flexible side of things when it comes to planning for a crowd. My thought is, take a S.W.A.G. and give yourself an out (like having someone available to run out at the last minute for additional supplies).
- Some people will come if you ask. They are longing for friends. The stories you hear might be surprising, but it's very American NOT to interact with your neighbor. This is one of my big concerns with modern American "rugged individualism." I wish we were more familiar with our neighbors. I pray for the right opportunities. One man came who said he never goes out in public because he has seizures, and it has become too embarassing for him.
- Some people won't come, even if you ask nicely. Everyone is different. Lots of people don't like crowds. Some people assume that you would frown on them or something they like to do (like drink whiskey in their Coke). One of my neighbors was invited several times, and still had their own personal cookout during ours. The worst thing you can do is get bent out of shape over that. I have declined invitations for no good reason before, why shouldn't others have the same right?
- THIS ONE IS FOR MY CHRISTIAN READERS. Your neighbors won't hurt you. Not even if they smoke. Not even if they drink more than you. Not even if they cuss more than you. Not even if they beat their wife and kids (more than you?). The Spirit which lives within you is stronger than anything that you might be afraid of. They won't get you sick. They won't make you backslide. What are you afraid of? Remember the story of the sheep and goats and try not to be such a goat, for Christ's sake.
- It's about love. If there is something you would love to receive, odds are good that someone else would also love to receive it. Meals and personal attention are a great start.
Finally, I would like to thank Tim and Sandra Nardoni, Eric Pyland, Paul Vanderwey, and our friends from both Morning Star Church and The Bridge, who all contributed to the success of the block party.