My wife Jan and I are still counting our blessings after Hurricane Irene which menaced the East Coast last month. We’re also reflecting on a very positive outcome that arose during those days of fearful preparation in our New England home: stronger neighborly ties.
We can all get caught up in the busyness of our hurried everyday lives, and forget to make time to get together with those who live in such close proximity to us. But when push comes to shove, good neighbors are those that are there when times get tough.
For days we all talked over coffee cups and hedges about the impending storm. We shared hurricane preparedness pointers, cell phone numbers, and resources. The afternoon before, my wife cut the endangered hydrangea tree and passed out “Hurricane bouquets.” In that same spirit, one local restaurant losing refrigerators of food generously hosted a complimentary hurricane brunch cooked on propane stovetops after the worst of the storm passed through. We all walked over, checked in that everyone was doing all right, and shared storm stories.
One neighbor suggested a group lunch the day before the storm, and another gathered us up for a candlelit pot luck dinner during the power outage that followed. Our next door neighbor, who lives alone, was absolutely overjoyed to receive our three “D” batteries so she’d be assured of a light during the days we’d be out of power. The best part of what had been a stressful situation was coming together in community.
We were lucky the Class 1 hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit us—but it reminded me once again how vital human connectedness is to your spirit and health. In fact, in the days after Hurricane Irene I came across research conducted by Sociology professor Eileen Bjornstrom of the University of Missouri. She found that people who trust their neighbors report better overall health.
We’re all neighbors in our global community, but when we are cut off from the larger outside world we’re reminded that trust in our local neighbors can make all the difference.
How about you? Has a neighbor made a difference in your life?
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