The other day my wife and I were talking about a beautiful lost art - inviting people to your front porch. Why is it a lost art? Well, how can the painter paint without a canvas?
Let me tell you what I mean. If you go to any metropolitan city or the towns surrounding it, you will see something awesome: many older homes on the block have front porches. The front porch used to be the prime place where people gathered.
What was discussed on the front porch depended on the people, but the most important thing was that the porch existed and neighbors interacted.
Here is the problem, most houses don’t have front porches anymore. At least not where I come from anyway. They have stoops. How many people can fit on a stoop? One full grown adult and maybe their child?
Why did we get rid of the front porch?
Besides the extra space, this was the place where neighborhoods were built, friends became family, and people were just…together.
In suburban neighborhoods across the United States it seems more time and energy has been spent creating the “mancave”, expanding backyard patios, and updating the kitchen & bathroom. Granted, these places get much attention because we spend a lot of our time there. But they are often inward focused.
I’m not here to be the fashion police or the homeowner's guide. I only care about teaching people that love is real. However, in order for people to experience love they need relationships and community. They need a place to gather and share in life together.
If there is anything this coronavirus has taught us, it is that we are dependent on others. We are meant to love and be loved. Zoom Meetings are great, but they can’t do what face to face friendship can.
As our society begins to open up, I hope we can find space to focus beyond ourselves. Let’s build the neighborhoods again and bring people together.
Ask yourself, where’s my front porch? What is your means of creating relationships? It doesn’t have to be beautiful, just a place to hang with your friends.
We cannot survive in isolation; we need communion with God and neighbor. The Lord gives us creativity to make this happen with our brothers and sisters. If we are open, the painter will have His canvas and we will be part of His artwork.
So, don’t stay away from your friends for long…they need you and we need each other.
Welcome to the patio, I guess ;)
Drew Isbell is the Director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Joliet. He is also the founder of The Marian Institute. He lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife and kids.