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The new neighborhood playground
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The new neighborhood playground

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If we’re being honest, sometimes the world can feel like a depressingly dark place.

Anger. Violence. Disaster. Hopelessness. Misinformation. Hatred.

How can we love our neighbors, when our neighbors don’t even subscribe to the same understanding of reality that we do?

I serve a church community in transition. We want to love our neighbors, to reach out, to have those life giving conversations. We want to know our neighbors enough that we can help support them in real ways.

But in this time where there is so much to drive us apart, how can we come back to a hopeful place of community? How do we bridge those incredibly vast chasms of misunderstanding? How do we love people who may hate us for who we are or what we believe or what we look like or who we love or how we may vote?

So what can we do? We build bridges. Or, more specifically, we build a playground.

And we’ve found that even the process of building the playground has brought neighbors together, with Kyle Holloway of Scout Troop 221 organizing and overseeing the playground work as a part of his Eagle Scout project.

This playground isn’t meant to bring people into the doors of our church on Sunday mornings. But we hope it can help to bring our neighbors together. A playground where we can play together. Where our kids can play together and make new friends. Where we can smile and laugh and talk. Where we’re just people. Where we can be neighbors once again.

I don’t know how to solve all of the worlds problems. I don’t know how to solve all of Beatrice’s problems. But I do know that loving my neighbors one at a time—through conversation, prayer, and play—can make a difference.

It won’t take all the darkness out of the world. But it will light a spark right here.

So we built a playground. We expanded on what was already here with a swing set and a teeter-totter (or a see-saw if you’re so inclined). We got out all the weeds and replaced them with wood chips.

We’re not finished yet. We’ll get some nice benches in there. We’ll have a few new picnic tables tucked under the shade of some big trees too.

A playground and a nice place for our neighbors to interact isn’t going to solve our differences. But it can be a place where our differences start to be put aside. Instead of seeing our differences, maybe we can start to see each other as people. People made in the image of God. People loved by God just as they are, right where they are.

I’ll see you over by the swings.

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