How can you “love your neighbor as yourself” if you rarely see them (Mk 12:30-31)? This question has certainly been asked before by those whose home location and/or work schedule limits their interaction with nieghbors. Now, however, everyone is feeling the weight of a new question: How can you love your literal neighbors if you are instructed to limit contact with them and remain socially distanced?
Instead of allowing social distancing to descend into social isolation, many have embraced these restrictions as an opportunity to engage with fresh and creative ideas. Here are some of my favorites:
- Social-Distancing Dinners: These coordinated dinners still adhere to standard safety guidelines surrounding COVID-19 but create a space for neighbors to interact with one another. They work especially well for those living on or near a cul-de-sac. Neighbors sit outside on lawn chairs, bring their own meal and drinks, and chat with one another from a distance. You’d be surprised what a simple smile and a good story can do for the human soul.
- Sidewalk Chalk: As businesses, schools, and oportunities for entertainment have begun to temporarily close, more and more people are walking the streets of their neighborhoods. Some have taken this opportunity to write an encouraging message on the end of their driveway or sidewalk for neighbors to read as they pass by. Some of my favorites have included activites for people to do while at the location (take a picture with the sidewalk chalk drawing, play hopscotch or another game, meditate on a Bible verse, etc.).
- Neighborhood Resource Stations: It’s so easy to default to a posture of scarcity in a time of crisis (“There is not enough!”) but let’s remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Some have taken this quite literally by placing a table on the edge of their street with items that are often in short supply at stores (toilet paper…). Often accompanied by a small sign that reads, “Take what you need,” this simple act of generosity is a tangible display of love in the neighborhood.
- Little Free Libraries: While these have been around for a while, the recent changes have breathed new life into these libraries. With more time on our hands than ever before, reading has become even more popular. If your neighborhood does not have a free library where people can give and take used books, consider building one yourself! Check out how it works here.
- Engaging Social Media Groups: Although many people are members of their neighborhood’s social media group, far less are contributors. I have seen more positivity and encouragement on social media these past few weeks than ever before. Make an effort not only to share Good News but to be Good News to everyone, even on social media.
I’D LOVE YOUR FEEDBACK: What are some of your creative ideas for engaging with/loving your neighbors?