It all began with a simple desire to sit amidst some green on a quiet lock-down morning. Having the desire but not finding any place to park his posterior, the man moved a stone near the overgrown grass and sat down there to contemplate what was within and without.
Pretty soon he thought, “why not gather a couple more stones and make a bench?” So he looked around and there not far from his chosen spot stones of the required size were found. One ‘bench’ quickly became two, then three!
The sight of the lone man lugging heavy rocks stirred the compassion of his neighbours. So now there were three men on the green dragging stones and building crude benches. As they worked together, they became better friends.
The next steps were obvious to the man. He’d long wanted his kids to get involved in some sport. Since summer promises of swimming and football lessons had had to be shelved, here was the perfect opportunity to make it up to them. Permission to mow the grass was quickly sought and obtained from the Society President. The reluctant watchman was summoned and the seldom used lawnmower was swung into action! Holes were dug, bamboo poles erected, a net donated, measurements taken – all by the three good Samaritans -and soon enough a badminton court materialized on the now usable green.
As badminton matches became the new norm on lock-down evenings, grandparents wandered cautiously outside and perched themselves on the new rock benches to watch the ‘games’. Mommies with toddlers emerged wearing lipstick and ‘outside clothes’ to make the most of an evening ‘out’. As ‘Grown ups’ participated in the matches, the children’s joy doubled. Family times took on new vitality and non- sporty onlookers (like me) began to gather around to cheer the sport on! Like an oasis in a parched land, the humble badminton court began to draw those thirsty for a break from their own homes and predictable routines.
The children fought less. The grown-ups talked more. And the benches found their higher calling.. and became the best kind of social platform ever! People who’d never made eye-contact in pre-Covid times now greeted each other and discovered new details about each others’ lives. Kids who rarely emerged outdoors joined the playing teams. Married couples started taking more regular evening walks, waving at the players from appropriate social distances
Slowly, but surely on and off the court a community was forming…
This is a true story, one I’ve seen unfold before my very eyes. The badminton court which has now morphed into a cricket pitch and football field has become a place where we migrate to on most evenings just to have some fun and face contact. Conversations on the bench with some have deepened..and we’ve opened up a bit on our closed-door struggles
I can’t stop marvelling at it all. Eight weeks ago this was just a patch of overgrown grass and now it has become a harbour for God’s kingdom on earth. I’ve learned and am learning something valuable through all of this. I’m going to put it down here in a few points. Here goes: –
It does not take money or talent to start a community
It does not take money, talent or a very complex plan to usher in change
All it takes is for someone to step up and move the first stone.
The world awaits a leader. Could you be one?
Sometimes it may seem that the weight of the stone you’re trying to/or envisaging to lift is too heavy for you to carry alone. And it is…at first. But in good time, if you don’t give up, others will come alongside to give you a hand and you’ll see a community form and winds of change blow around you.