This morning I woke up to doves calling on the rooftop of our home. The wind was blowing, the sun was coming up. I opened my eyes and could hear Lulu the Wonder Dog snoring on her bed, my husband was snuggled up in our blue comforter, his hand gently on my arm. The great part about this man of mine is he always needs to know I am there even if it’s just his foot touching mine. I lied still and said “Thank you Jesus”. In this brief moment before treadmills and agendas and meals and real life I am watered in the beauty of the life we have built, in the garden of our Creator. I wake up slowly, grab my gear and head downstairs to start coffee, start a load of laundry and get on the treadmill. If this were the sum of the good in my life, I am blessed.
I have lived in this little town for 20 years now. I have deep friendships, favorite places to go, neighbors whose names I know, clerks at the grocery store whom I know by name. I am part of this community. The community however didn’t come out to embrace me, I had to embrace my community.
Yes, we don’t have a lot of services that many bigger cities have. Yes, we are in the poorest county of California. Yes, we have a huge disparity between the haves and the have nots but what are those things to someone who can make a difference? I have a choice to make each day. I can choose to move forward and make a difference, or shut my curtains and complain. Face it, even in this town, we suffer in luxury. I can choose to water, or I can drink it all and not share it. My choice.
I remember when I first moved here. I loved the amount of house I could afford on my salary. Yes, there would be an almost 2 hour commute one way but what did that matter? I was going to own a home. The reality of that quickly set in but we muddled through and our neighbors helped. In no time I had people who I could count on to help in a pinch.
My children were raised here and they are people of good character. They have been shaped by a community who took care of their children. I heard a story a friend told recently about how the bus driver would tell her parents when she didn’t get on the bus for school, after her parents had sent her to school. These are things we can count on when we live in close proximity. Yes, sometimes that ‘everybody knows everything’ attitude can be annoying but it can save lives as well. Small town living is not for everyone. Some people complain daily about their plight.
My husband tells a story of an old dog on a porch howling in pain. A man walks up to the dog and says, “Why are you howling? How can I help you?” The dog says, “I’m sitting on a nail and it’s stabbing my side.” The man says, “Why don’t you get up and move?” The dog answers, “It’s easier to sit here and howl.”
I live in a small town with many people who enjoy living here. I am well watered in this field. If I didn’t like living here I would move. I am not a victim. No one twisted my arm to live here. I am not a tree and I can move if I’m unhappy.