A Shared Table

Growing up I knew all my neighbors and most of my neighbors knew me. Not saying they liked me but they definitely knew me. We didn’t really do anything together as neighbors, at least that I can remember, but we knew each other by name.

After heading off to school, I didn’t know any of them. Which thinking back on that, seemed a little odd. The only neighbor I really knew during that period was my campus pastor who lived next door to us; of course, I moved into the house next door to his precisely because I already knew him. Being neighbors wasn’t the occasion for me to know him or his family.

We’re not good at this neighbor thing anymore. Maybe we never were. Maybe I’m believing a cultural myth from decades before I was born about what neighborhoods were. If so, I blame Mary Tyler Moore and Dick van Dyke.

Doing life these days conjures up words like frenetic, chaos, busy, lonely, separated, individual, and obligation.

In light of this, we’ve started a bit of an experiment on our little block in Houston. Every Thursday we have an open invite for dinner for the entire block. No agenda. The only goal is to see if people who are in completely different stages of life, come from different faith, economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds could become actual neighbors, rather than people who just live next to each other. That is, can they become friends?

Jerry Hodge