The views from the mountain were absolutely breathtaking. There were very few people who had the good fortune of owning property that possessed this panoramic vista, and those who did were neighborly. The mantra of the mountain was, “Holler if you need help, otherwise people will leave you be.” They all shared the same infrastructure – road, power lines, a water table. Yet what really connected them was their shared experience of living in such a remote place during the harshest, even life threatening situations of blizzards and windstorms.
While they were neighborly, they were not necessarily close friends. Even still it came as a complete surprise the day one of the neighbors began to adorn his property with massive political flags and banners. And in that moment, a seismic shift occurred as the polarized world outside their hillside hideaways landed in their mountain top zip code. It wasn’t long before neighbors began grumbling and finally somebody decided to go and see if the big banner bearing neighbor could be reasoned with to remove his – as they referred to – “political pollution”. Unfortunately, the conversation quickly became heated, then screaming about first amendment rights ensued.
As the months went on and things became more divisive throughout the country, the same was true on the mountain. Other neighbors with different political perspectives put up their own signs. The lines were drawn. Folks who had been good neighbors, helped out when needed, respected each other’s privacy, were now embroiled in an all out mountain feud.
One season moved on to the next and the temperature outside began to match the heat between neighbors. And then one night a storm moved onto the mountain. With hundreds of lightning strikes and fierce winds, suddenly an entire wall of fire was heading their way. Scrambling for their lives every neighbor jumped into action, bull dozing fire breaks, clearing trees and pumping all the water they could on each of the mountain homes. They were in the fight of their lives and they knew there was very little time before they would all need to evacuate.
Over the following few days all of the neighbors sheltered at the local high school gym. Their time together battling the elements and waiting to hear any update on their homes deepened their connection like never before. They shared stories of their common love of the mountain and deep appreciation for each other despite the occasional challenging circumstances that came their way.
A number of days later when they returned to their mountain, thanks to their good collective work and that of the firefighters in the air and on the ground, every one of their homes was spared. Thanks be to God!
Even amidst the deepest divisions the reality is we are all connected. Many of us desire independence, when in fact, at the end of the day, none of us is an island. We are all interdependent on each other. While our opinions and perspectives may greatly differ, our lives are intertwined branches from the same vine, all called in the end to bear the good fruit for each other.