Monday, April 16, 2012

Love Thy Neighor

Who knew a cat could help with our second greatest commandment, which is to love our neighbor? We have been living in our house for five years. We have had neighbors come and go. We have exchanged many waves, given one "Welcome to the Neighborhood" bag of cookies to some very unfriendly neighbors, but not much more than that. 
To be very honest we have done a very poor job of loving our neighbors 
(in a proximity related definition).
Then along came Patches.  
She has helped us develop a relationship with the neighbor to the right of us.
She's what Mr. Jim, our neighbor, and I like to call our shared cat. Patches eats and sleeps at his house, but hangs out with us a whole lot of the time. If you remember, she even joined us while we read the Pumpkin Patch Parable last year. She has killed 8 snakes so far this season and Seth absolutely loves her, so we definitely think she is a keeper.
If it weren't for this cat, we probably wouldn't know a thing about any of our neighbors. But because of her, we have had the opportunity to have lots of conversations with Mr. Jim. His conversations have led us to find out more about the lady that lives across the street from him. This lady that lives diagonally from us is in very poor health. When we first moved in, I remember seeing her walk, but now she is always in a wheelchair. She has four or five dogs and her brother comes to her house six or seven times a day to help take care of her and the dogs. Mr. Jim occasionally mows her grass for her. I feel so ashamed to admit this, but I have never even walked over to meet this lady. I never knew what to say. I have always been scared. I could name a million excuses. I just watch from my kitchen window as buses come by to get her to take her somewhere and then return her later each day, as the meat truck delivers her meals, and as her brother comes by every few hours. Five years and I haven't even said hello. That is until yesterday.
Occasionally you can see a dog running around the neighborhood. When one of this lady's dogs gets loose, she frantically yells the dog's name, which you can't understand, and then just hopes and prays that the dog will return. Yesterday as I was loading the boys up in the car, I saw all this happen again. Never acting on it before as an opportunity to help, I decided that once I got the boys strapped in, I would try to go catch her dog. The dog ran off behind a house a few doors down, so I decided to go up to her door and ask her the dog's name. It amazes me the strength Jesus can give you when you are willing to take that first step. After learning the dog's name was Gabby, I called for it for a few more minutes. I sadly had to return to her door empty handed. I told her that I had to go but if I saw Gabby I would try to catch her. It's sad and pathetic that I had to go because I was going to be late for church of all things instead of helping her.
In the state that she was in when I talked to her yesterday, I am not sure she would even remember me if I walked up to her again. But it's a start.. and thankfully after so many years... in the right direction.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote this. We've been living in our home for a little over a year. There was an elderly couple living across the road when we first moved in. Once, the lady cam over asking for help bc her husband had fallen. They were both extremely grateful for his help.

    Not long after that, sometime, her passed. We've waved and said a few hellos to her, but I keep feeling a tug from her direction. Much like you, though, I don't even know what to say or where to start. Reaching out to other's I don't know just isn't in my introverted nature.

    However, the thought of baking her some cookies has come to mind several times over the past few weeks. I know its a small gesture, but I thought it might be a good icebreaker. I never see her talk to any other neighbors, and I hate that.

    This week, may just be the week to take action.
    {sorry about that novel I just wrote you haha}

  2. I think I might even try making some cookies too. You will have to let me know how it goes!