When I mention this in middle class rooms the almost universal reaction is, "oh I could never do that." I understand the sentiment behind that statement. I think I am hearing anxiety about being accessible "24/7." I think I am hearing a fear of having no "down time." I think I am hearing a fear about not being able to have boundaries.
I've discovered though, that for me, living in the neighborhood and specifically in the house where people knock when there is an emergency or inconvenience, is a great spiritual discipline. The truth is that sometimes I have a hard time trusting God to protect me.
Last night, after a long and beautiful Sunday, as I was knitting in my yoga pants and t-shirt when two little girls rang the doorbell. My husband, the saint, answered the door. He then came to my room and said, "there are two little girls at the door and they seem to be unsure of what they need." I came to the door. I knew the girls -- they worship with us regularly. I made sure they had the permission of the "big people" to come knock on the door that is, I ascertained that someone's mom knew where they were and asked what they needed. They asked for a glass of water.
And, smiling, I went to the kitchen and poured cold water as they sat in the living room and watched my step-son making dinner and looked around where their "Pastor Tina" lived. (They are lucky enough to have many many pastors in their lives.) We sat and talked in small sentences and smiled. When their water was gone, on impulse I said, "let me get my shoes and I'll walk you back over to the church."
When we walked back over to the church we saw a party in progress -- food laid out on the table on the patio, families everywhere. The adults came and greeted me and smiled. I cannot speak their language and they make valiant efforts to make sure I know I am always welcome. They asked me to bless the food and the little child whose second birthday was the stated cause of the party. They insisted that I stay for food. So many happy families, so many people who knew me well enough to be okay with me being in yoga pants and a t-shirt.
I never would have known about the party or the fact that the girls had been sent to the door to invite me to the party but didn't have the words. I was tired last night. And yet I wouldn't have traded that moment for anything. And now, as I type in a dead silent church (very rare on a Monday) I realize that God protects even me. I may be called to alter my agenda on a fairly regular basis. And God is watching over me and everyone else. Weaving together something more wonderful than I can imagine.
Living next door to the church in the neighborhood is the most wonderful, difficult, perfect exercise in trusting God that I can imagine. And when I remember to thank God for all the quiet times that God hands me despite the fact that I am too silly to ask for them, it's much easier to remember that God loves the wold world. Me included. When I remember that I also remember with assurance that, for me, this life is not about me maintaining my own self, whether through boundaries or money, it's about me learning every single day more about the God I love and worship and about how to ask for this day's daily bread.