You’re Not Alone

For many the hardest part of finding a way through the wilderness is being so vulnerable and cut off.

How do we stay connected?  What supports the essential need to belong?  Belonging is to know even in the midst of the wilderness, I am among friends. Belonging happens when we join with other people to create something that makes a place better.  Stories of neighbors reaching out in the wilderness can be inspiring, worth telling.  This happened in my family. 

It began after Christmas 2020.  My wife Mary said, “Ray this has been a challenging year, let’s not take our Christmas lights down early.  I am going to ask our neighbors to join us.” 

Image of Christmas Lights with the text "Belonging happens when we join with other people to create something that makes a place better."

“Hey neighbors, what do you think about keeping our exterior holiday lights on?  We will probably be the last lights standing, let’s hang in there together.  I am thinking about asking all our neighbors who have not taken their lights down to join us.  What do you think?”

Neighbor, “I think it’s a good idea. A few have already taken them down.  Bravo, thank you for leading the light campaign.  I think it will make a great difference for all of us.”

“Dear Neighbors, I hope I am not breaking Association email rules, if so forgive me. ️First, this is Mary Schulte. I want you to know how much Ray and I have enjoyed the outdoor lights this holiday season. So much so I am asking if you would consider keeping yours up longer than usual if you have not already taken them down. I must say as we look at the lights in our neighborhood it makes us smile and fills our hearts which is such a gift in these challenging times.”

“Unfortunately, I did not think of this sooner but when I did yesterday, I reached out to some neighbors close by and the reaction was awesome, many saying they loved the idea and count them in. The best are Zada’s who had taken their lights down only to put some back up yesterday to join in the neighborhood “spirit of light.”  

Mary wrote, “Dear friends when I drove home tonight, I was smiling from ear to ear as there were more and more houses with lights on again.  Brought tears to my eyes as did the email from the Association.  I think what touched me most is I feel as a neighborhood we have come together for a purpose, the purpose to shine the light.  So, thank you again for the encouragement.”

“Dear Mary, We love your sentiment to “be part of the light”! During these very difficult days, the Association Board agrees that extending holiday lights through winter will brighten our lives and our neighborhood and make it a bit cheerier. Thank you for thinking of this, and we appreciate the thoughtful display of care for our neighbors.  Happy New Year, everyone, and wishing a bright year for all!  Homeowners Association Board”

The lights stayed on until all the over 65 neighbors were all able to get their vaccines.  The last lights came down March 28, 2021. Mary said, “I am filled with joy and gratitude at the responses. I also am grateful I was given the push to do it.”

The Holy Spirit is mighty powerful. ️ How is the Holy Spirit working to build connectedness in your neighborhood?

By Ray Schulte