Last night I hung out with a large group of neighbor youth and kids, about 25 to 30 in all. The older boys played basketball. The younger kids mostly played on the swings and jungle gym. Two girls dressed in traditional Muslim head coverings invited me to play volleyball with them. I took my place alongside one of them. The other girl stood on the opposite side of a chain link fence. We bounced a small beach ball back and forth. I bumped the ball to my partner and she hit it over the fence. Most of the time. We smiled and laughed a lot.
The fence which was intended to distinguish boundaries and separate has become a tool for bringing very different people together for common purpose: doing life together as fellow humans. Relationships forged in the crucible of time spent together.
It takes time and proximity, this endeavor to build community and melt cross-cultural chasms. It takes love and humility, a willingness to listen well and open our hearts to others, especially when they ignore or hate us.
Often the gains are small and can even seem like failures. But press on. As if loving the Lord, himself. Because that is the reality (Matthew 25:34-46).