Friday, January 18, 2008

The Perks of Belonging

I live in a tiny little town of about 500 people out in western Oklahoma and it's widely acknowledged here in this community that our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. We are close-knit.

In fact, it's still a bit of a surprise to me that I say "our" and "we" because I moved into this community from "elsewhere", and there were moments at the beginning when I felt like a bit of an outsider; now, in so many ways, I find that I am comfortable and loved here. It helps, of course, that I married a hometown boy, but I really think I would have been anyway after attending high school and being involved in the church.

For instance, a friend, who also happens to be our church custodian right now, dropped by today to ask me a question about the set up for our ESL seminar tomorrow. She also brought by a little clear folder for my scrapbooking stickers, because she knew I was looking for one and she ran across it in the city. That's not an isolated incident either. People here care. It's nice.

Even though I live in what Marla Cilley calls CHAOS, (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) I just thrive on people dropping by to visit. It would be nice to have a thirty minute warning so I could speed clean the living room, but even with no notice I'll welcome in a visitor. I also love knowing that, if anything were to happen, my family could go to any of several hundred people in this area who would call us by name, take us in, and feed us something (delicious). Yes, most of them would somehow be related, but even the few that aren't feel like family and treat us as if we are.

Not everyone likes this much familiarity, I realize. I think Mama Lilibeth, despite her love for and role in our community, would be perfectly happy if she could spend a part of every year up in a little cabin that was a good brisk walk from anyone but the immediate family. I've never needed that much solitude, though. I would love some peace in the morning to spend time with God, but beyond that, I need people. I just bore myself silly because I like to talk. (Ask poor Art.)

I only hope that our relationship with this town is symbiotic and not parasitic. I hope that we are returning as much as we are taking, and that if God ever calls us to leave, we'll be able to take the spirit of belonging with us, instead of mourning its loss.


Lilibeth said...

Well, you got that right; I get enough society to curdle my hermit's heart, but I do get lonely if I'm away too long...I think...have I ever been alone very long? Hmmm.

Tendrils said...

Beautiful post!

aftergrace said...

Once again, you have reminded me of why I long for small town life.

Qtpies7 said...

I have CHAOS, too. But today I wouldn't let anyone in, lol. Because people think it is OK to come to my back door for some weird reason. I hate that! I have a gorgeously landscaped front yard, yet they come to the back door. Donnie put up a "Please Use Other Door" sticker for me. The back door is for family and close, close friends only.

I hate small town living. Glad you like it. My town was backbiting mean when I grew up in one.

JAM said...

Sounds like a great place to me.

Qtpies7 said...

Are you online? Drew is needing help with a book that I bet you have read. The Great Gatsby.