I have noted that people come and go in the trailer park. There are really two groups of people who live here. One group is made up of people who have made this place their home and are here for the long haul. The other group is more transient. They are here for six months or a year and then they move on. One is not better than the other, but they are different.
As I have thought through this series, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the people around me now, but also I have spent some time thinking about the people who have left. People who we were around, then one day they were gone.
I think about our neighbors Wayne and Edna. They were raising their grandson, who would often come over for Rachel to help him with his math homework. I think about a man we knew name Jon. He decorated everything he could find with the rebel flag and I gave him the nickname Rebel Jon. Jon was raising his kids as a single dad and times were often tough for them. We once delivered a couch we got for free to Jon so his kids would have someplace to sleep. We would bring them food from time to time. In the end he was just gone.
I think about an atheist we talked with named Mike. We talked a lot about his life. He had been a drug addict and alcoholic. He had been sober for several years. He was convinced there was no God. One day he looked terrible. He told us his body was shutting down from the years of abuse it had taken. The doctors had given him a few months to live and he was shaken. He asked us to pray with him. A few months later he was gone.
I think about the woman who had bi-polar paranoid schizophrenia who was convinced the Mafia was out to kill her. Her family tried to help her but she was always going off of her meds and spinning out of control. We invested in her life. We visited her house. We prayed with her. We hoped to help her by listening to her paranoia and working through her fears logically. One day she was gone.
All of these people were only in our lives for a short time. They moved on. Some to better things, some to worse things, and some we have no idea what happened to. This is a real part of life in the trailer park. People leave. It’s true in life too. Life moves people around. Those we are close to move away.
Writing this series has also made me think more about those around me right now. I don’t know if it’s clear on this blog, but I am actually a pretty big introvert. I don’t like meeting new people. I am not a fan of talking to people I don’t know. It’s not easy for me to make new friends, or engage new neighbors. Taking the time to reflect on our time here in the trailer park has been good for me. It has given me some needed perspective. My neighborhood is constantly changing. The thing about people leaving is that new people take their place. Every week my neighborhood has new opportunities to see Christ in people. New chances for me to be Christ to people.
A few days ago I backed my truck under my carport like any other day. Across the street in Bill’s old trailer my new neighbor is raking up the first leaves to fall in his yard. My inner introvert I telling me to simply wave and walk inside. I think about all the people around us who I’ve written about. Against my nature I go over and talk to my new neighbor. We talk about the leaves. I let him know he is starting on a job that will last all fall. I tell him it seems like all the leaves of the entire trailer park end up in our corner of the park. We talk for a while and I enjoy our conversation. His name is Bill.
My neighborhood is always new. Someone is moving out. Someone is moving in. There is opportunity in every trailer. Not a superficial “reach people” opportunity. It’s an opportunity for real relationship. Jesus is working in every life and he is using me as part of his plan here by simply being here. It’s a new neighborhood. It’s my neighborhood and I’m lucky to live in it.