Living in sunny southern California has its benefits. I can enjoy mild weather, usually not in September, but the rest of the year. I can enjoy mountain views and the beach. I can see snow on the tops of the mountains through the leaves of palm trees in late winter. I can enjoy the cool sea breeze in the evenings of the summer. I have shopping malls, live theater, movie theaters and ethnic food stores and restaurants within a 10-mile radius. It is truly beautiful here.
In my small suburb on my street we have a variety of cultures. On my block we have Buddhists, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, Episcopalian, Korean minister, catholic and not sure. In the surrounding neighborhood we have Islanders from Marshall Islands and other islands in the pacific. We also have Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Canadians, many different Central and South American nationals, and the odd Midwestern and Texan.
For all the diversity there is a distinct lack of privacy. The feeling that you are alone here is only emotional. People, the houses, businesses and stores are everywhere. The horizon is cluttered with jets and wires. Everywhere I look I see people. Being alone in quietness is a relative term.
I like to have some alone time and it is hard to find here in the “big city”. People are everywhere. The noise is sometimes deafening. Even when I went outside to wash my car the music from the fairgrounds was loud enough to be heard over the water. Fortunately, it was kind of nice. Most times it is the roar of jets and helicopters overhead, or cars, trucks and busses driving by or even the many mowers and leaf blowers used by the many yard workers.
I spend time trying to ignore the noise and the invasion of privacy that goes with living among so many people. And I leave the TV on more than most to offset the noises from those around me.
Consequently I do not really know my neighbors that well. I exist in the illusion of privacy while deep down I know that they can hear my television if the door or windows are open, just like I can hear them whenever they are in the backyard pool.
Occasionally I will wonder into our backyard and find a ball. It isn’t ours. It has come over the fence. Sometimes it is a basketball and sometimes it is just a pool ball. So I pick it up and throw it back over the fence. Every three or four times I hear a thank you from the other side of the fence.
Most of our neighbors on our street have lived there for many years. We have been there over 16 years. When we moved in we were the “young family” on the street. Now there are others with small children down the block. It makes me smile to hear the squeals and squabbles and remember when those were my children.
I often feel claustrophobic in my town and especially when I venture out into traffic. There are just so many people. I feel like they are choking out my ability to breathe. I like to be able to stretch my arms out and I really like the drive through eastern California, Arizona and New Mexico as my husband and I did recently. Sometimes I think I live for those moments when I could stop and not see much.
I like to be alone to think and reflect on things. That is hard to do in a house where there is always someone awake. Conversely I have this illusion that I am alone in my daily struggle to look for work and live my life, as I should. This is usually dispelled by the sight of the ball in the yard or dirty dishes in the sink.
I am not alone. I have God who is always there with me. He will never abandon me. He will never break his word. I also have a supportive family who love me and will ask after me. God has blessed me with loving friends and family who will surround me with prayer and hugs. Even if those hugs are long distance.
So, whenever I feel down I remember I am not alone. I throw the ball back and pray for my neighbors. I hope they will be patient with me and that I will be patient with them. I do the dishes for those in my household and pray for them. God blesses our home with His peace and His love.
God speaks to me through many songs. This last weekend he spoke to me through a song written by Tim Timmons, a worship leader in our church. Thank you Tim. http://www.reverbnation.com/timtimmons
Oh God, You know all my ways
And still Your love remains
You thrill me
Oh God the fact that I can sing
And You’re still listening
You thrill me
You’ll never abandon me
You never will, You never will
You’ll never forsake me You never will
You’ll never disown me
You never will, You never will break Your word
You thrill me
Psalm 18:1-2 I love you, God— you make me strong. God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout.
3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved.
19 God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
20-24 God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
30 What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him Makes it.
Psalm 4:1,8 When I call, give me answers. God, take my side! Once, in a tight place, you gave me room; Now I’m in trouble again: grace me! hear me! At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together.