The thread of civility, part 2

We’re all faced with defining moments, times when our responses to the circumstances of life prophetically outline the shape of who we are becoming.  This past week Vancouver had one of those defining moments – and I don’t mean the riots.  It was the day after the bedlam.

There was an immediate groundswell of disgust and embarrassment to the thuggery of the crowds on Wednesday night.   And then civility showed up in spades the next day as crowds of people, brooms in hand and goodwill in heart, came to clean up the riot aftermath, reclaiming order from chaos, asserting hope in the face of ugliness.

This is the ordinary stuff that makes for an extraordinary city, no matter what city you call home; this is the memory to be etched into people’s civic imagination.  As one of my friends in Vancouver said, “these ordinary citizens are demonstrating a counter cultural way of being a community that cares about each other and the place they call home. A tangible expression of light and grace pushing back the darkness.”

These acts of civil love, of seeking the common good, are so ordinary, happening unnoticed around us all the time with no one taking photos and posting them on Facebook.  Do a quick inventory of the countless acts of service going on in your community that make it a better place.  I think of the guys coaching my son’s soccer team, the community association board planning events to make my neighbourhood a better place, all the volunteers who combed the neighbourhood back alleys a few weeks back on the annual community clean-up, the people putting on the pancake breakfast, volunteers planning all year to put on the Justice Film Festival, people checking in on shut-in neighbours, a family hosting a block party, school volunteers, someone who helps a lost child – I’m just getting going and this is hardly scratching the surface.

This is the beautiful face of a common grace all around us everyday.

The fabric of a city or community gets tightly woven together into a beautiful tapestry through the quotidian and ordinary acts of seeking the shalom of others.  Proverbs 11:10 says “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.”  I hear Vancouver rejoicing today.

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