Let's take a detour from the Lenten PrayerBlog Detour to welcome a new kid on the block: Ditmas Park Corner, a true neighborhood blog (which, for the moment, features your goofy-looking StableMistress weighing in on how much I love it around here). The Corner is run by the well-liked and respected founders of the community's seminal blog, who have regrouped after its sad takeover by a not-very-welcome corporate parent. This strikes me as the Way Things Ought to Be, and I wish them all the luck, advertising, buzz, retwerping, eyeballs, et cetera in the world.
The bloggers may have hit on something deep with their notion of a "corner" (as opposed to, say, a "patch") as the working concept of community. We are blessed in Brooklyn to live in an urban space where people walk around a lot, and that's where you meet your neighbors—out on the street, in the places between your private spaces. Our corners are leafy and steeped in history (like this one, with its ancient surviving sign at the corner of Marlborough and Albemarle Roads). But they are also very public stages, a short hop from fractious subway lines, where we have encountered over the years every manner of curious person, from Hollywood film crews to the occasional mugger, from affluent stroller moms and dads to impoverished recent immigrants hunting in our recycling for bottles. Built as exclusive enclaves, the neighborhoods of "Victorian Brooklyn" (including Ditmas Park, Prospect Park South, and our slightly scruffier Caton Park on its northern edge) are verdant meeting grounds for any city soul who walks by.
Speaking of souls: Back to my prayer-a-day diversion! I hunted around for a prayer for one's neighborhood or community, but those few I found were annoyingly bland. (I am curating these prayers for awesomeness. Besides, no one will ever mistake this for Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.) Instead, "neighbor" led me to the awesome old-timey Catholic "Act of Love." I'm not a social-justice wonk, I'm all about one person at a time making things bearable for each other. And if we all managed this prayer's aspiration, our communities would be like earthly paradise.
An Act of Love
O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.