Rethinking Home Security

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Home requires boundaries.  Lines drawn between home and not home.  Those boundaries have doors and windows which allow access and restrict access, but that in no way necessitates mistrust.  Rather, there is a strong implication that some authority sets the agenda.  But that agenda is characterized by loving trust.  In fact, without trust, home cannot really be home.

Trust is the thing that holds a home together.  Common trust holds community together.  Home is made up of people who celebrate and share rest with one another.  Sharing rest is all about trust, and trust is all about having and maintaining boundaries, but also managing the access – the doors.

When I was a kid, I lived in a rural community where it seemed everyone knew everyone else.  Anonymity was virtually nonexistent.

And no one locked the doors to their homes.

This does not mean that we knew everyone equally.  It did not mean everyone was equally welcome in each others homes.  But it did mean there was a deep, though largely unspoken, respect for each others boundaries.  Our community had a common trust.  The word for that is FAITH – a delicate web-work of relationships oriented around a sense of authority which insisted we all value each other highly.

We were all extremely vulnerable to one another, but largely unaware of how deeply vulnerable we were.  We just did not worry about it.

As a 12 year old, my friends and I knew we did not just walk into the Widow Wilson’s house and take what we wanted.  Widow Wilson, though, was known for her fantastic homemade peanut butter cookies.  She always had fresh-baked pie.  She had something we wanted, and whether she was home or away, we knew those cookies were in there.  There was nothing to stop us taking what we wanted except a respect for her boundary.  But we knocked and only entered when invited.

But she always invited. 

In fact, she always invited us not only into her kitchen, but into her smile, into her heart, into her celebration of children.  It seemed to be the highlight of her day to share a few cookies or some fresh pie.  She seemed to feel loved by sharing these things.  I don’t think us kids would have used the word love to describe it, but that is why we went there – though it seemed like we were just getting cookies.

And when Widow Wilson went away to visit her grandchildren out of town for a few days, either my mother or her cousin would stop by every other day to water her plants and bring in her mail.  I was sent by my father to cut her grass.  And us kids knew there would be no sharing of the cookies until she returned.

No one thought to call this kind of community “Neighborhood Watch,” but that is exactly what it was.  We did not need a sign in the flower bed to warn us kids or strangers to “Keep Out!”  And Widow Wilson did not need to pay a monthly service fee for a security alarm system.  In fact, no one really thought of home security in any such shadowy terms or negativity.

Rather, we just shared faith.  Trust expressed in the celebration of love and cookies and respect of boundaries.  It was a faith that seems to have disappeared from the world today.  Our common sense of authority is largely gone with it.  In place of authority, we now have home security systems with alarms, flowerbed signs, and lots of monthly fees – all feeding on anonymity and fear while transforming homes into armed fortresses.

Without that common faith, home is hardly worth feigning.


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