The Seattle freeze can be a bit disheartening. It is known to breed isolation, loneliness, and yes, even depression. No I’m not talking about the weather. I ‘m talking about the lack of hospitality and neighborliness that most refer to as the “Seattle freeze.” We have all been a part of both sides, the receiving and delivering side of it: “We need to hang out”, or “we should grab lunch soon”, a potential new friend insists, only to never hear from them again. If you are really persistent, you may try to follow up with your want-to-be friend but, if you are like the majority of Americans, after you are denied two times you will most likely never extend an invitation to that person again. (Which implies, by the way, that if you turn someone else down twice, they probably won’t ask again. Maybe it’s worth your while to change your schedule for a potential new friend.)
Here is the reality: “the Seattle freeze” is not going to change unless you become the champion of invitation and hospitality. One thing that I have learned after living in three different cities in five years is that our society’s longing to belong runs deeper than the status quo of isolation and independence. Your neighbor wants to know you. They want to be in your home and have dinner with you. They want to open their hearts, share their hopes and dreams with you. They just they need someone to help them get unstuck from the deceptive lure of hibernation. You can be a champion of Justice, even in a small way.
What if we, as Christ Followers, showed our fellow neighbors what it means to be human, that we were created as relational beings that care for one another?
What if we were the ones who were the champions of hospitality and connectedness in the places we call home?
What if we took Jesus’ command to love our neighbor literally and we began to engage the person living next door or across the street from us?
When we moved to Columbia City nine months ago we began to experiment with this idea of being a champion of hospitality for our place. We are still in the early stages, but we are having a blast! We have thrown parties, had countless dinners, started numerous sidewalk conversations, and (my personal favorite) hosted neighbors on our front porch for late-night chat sessions. We have even invited neighbors into our “day of prayer” that we host in our prayer room quarterly. This summer we will also begin neighborhood BBQ’s at our house every Thursday. It’s been a lot of hard work but the rewards are worth it. The Freeze is beginning to thaw.
So who lives on your street? Perhaps God has put you next door to them for a reason. If we don’t take the first step, then we miss the beauty of what God has and oh, how it is beautiful! Let us be a people who are known as people of hospitality, who help usher into our cities a relational warmth that melt the freeze and open the door to living deeper into our God-given design as ones who bear the image of our triune God.