In October of 2021, Mom and I finally moved to Hope House Montgomery at 430 Polk St with the help of many Hunter Hills church members. We were able to join the interns, Kila and Kiara, who had been in the HHM Intern cottage since August. They were happy to have us there finally.
Over weekly dinners, we began planning and brainstorming about the next steps. One of the aspects of living in a community that I think is important is cooking and spending time together. I have to admit it takes intentionality. As a human immersed in American culture, I am very independent and can always find a reason to be on my own or find a reason to allow others to be on their own. I have realized this mindset often instills arrogance and isolation that is not helpful to our community, world, or responsibility to our young.
I have come to recognize that our creator is community-oriented and a community in and of themselves (Trinity) - this means that we should continually be seeking to include others. Be ready, it is work, and it is messy work.
Seeking to include others is generally hard for me. Still, we must embrace this intention if we hope to get this restoration and reconciliation thing down. I do want to bring people in, but I want everything perfect before they come in, and well that, also stifles community and the necessary spontaneity of community. Where does this thinking come from: that everything has to be perfect??!! It seems embedded in me. This thinking results in the absence of both humility and authenticity.
Each week I am learning so much.
This week Kila and I met with the principal of Highland Ave Elementary. We decided maybe the principal could guide us in figuring out how to connect with our neighborhood and neighborhood kids. She reminded me of something the Gentry’s from Hope House Detroit had told me, and that was that we live in a skeptical world where too many people have been harmed and wounded, so gaining trust is the first step.
So we knew we needed to be out and about in the neighborhood and do simple things that would indicate to our community that we care and are invested in this neighborhood (because we are). This brainstorm led to a trash pickup. We posted on the Neighborhood App and let our church and Faulkner University know, inviting others to join in. It ended up just being the three of us, which was okay. COVID is very much a thing right now. But you “gotta” start with what you got!
So off we went in our visibility vests, neon blue surgical gloves, and black trash bags. We saw several neighbors but no eye contact or conversation exchange - I am learning to be okay with the silence for now. We picked up bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, cans, and many unrecognizable objects. By 9:30 am, we had six bags.
I thought it was a good morning, spending time with two incredible young women, picking up trash which is relaxing to me, and beautifying a couple of our streets. I will be back at it next weekend.
P.S. As we were quietly moving along the streets focused on the ground, I looked up and saw this: A litter of kittens (and cats) all snuggled together on this cool morning in a swing in a back yard. Smile. Eye contact! I will take it.