Tuesday, October 11, 2005

love your neighbor

i have never met our neighbor though her reputation far precedes her. on one occasion we spoke on the phone for the following indictment. nestled in between my windshield wiper blade and windshield was a lovely letter from the d.p.t. stating i had "blocked her driveway" and owed them a measly $75. gulp.

i had just been fined for parking in front of my house.

i knew it needed to be addressed, but wanted to wait until words that were not fueled from an angry place subsided to be replaced from a more rational, logical place. and so the letter was drafted with me asking her to help me be a better neighbor to her, providing potential solutions to the repeated problem of her ticketing people who park in front of her house, thinking they are blocking her driveway, when clearly that is not always the case. i gave her my cell phone number and encouraged her to call me to dialogue... which she did and what ensued were her explanations about things like "six inches" "her right" and i explained i would be more careful in the future, but that if she ever felt my little blue car might be blocking her driveway to please call me and i would move the car.

it has been explained to me that she is older in age and very fearful of the outside world, not going out unless absolutely necessary. nervous about everything. a life lived indoors is a safe life, right?

another time, someone else parked in front of her house and was ticketed. it's not such an infrequent occurrence really. but this time they tacked a nasty note on the tree in front of our house defaming us. the note called us out as being "not the sophisticated women" the driver had previously believed. my roommate lisa then drafted a note of her own, tacked to the same tree trunk providing shade in front of our house, revealing it was not us, that we would not do that. shortly thereafter she stealthily painted a white line, six inches from the edge of our neighbor's driveway, so no one else could be unwilling victims.

tonight, we met for bible study at our house. the topic: hospitality and loving your neighbors, coworkers and the like. as we settled into the living room with mugs of steaming hot tea, a piercing wail like a bank robbery cut through the air. i knew our neighbor had somehow set off her alarm and told everyone i would be back.

in her doorway stood a panicked chinese woman. i asked the pertinent questions- is there smoke? are you okay? she told me in broken english that this house was her sister's house, that her sister was gone. i walked into the lobby and saw the alarm box lit up with a red light strobing like the steam issuing from a tea kettle. i asked if she knew the code. she said (amid the blare of noise), "no." the phone rang. i told her it probably was the alarm company, to answer the phone and explain who she was.

she reached for it, but not in time. the entire time, i remained in the lobby, not wanting to breach her space anymore than was necessary. not wanting to bring further cause for alarm. i explained that the alarm company probably was sending someone over- that it would be important for her to talk to her sister and get the code, have her sister talk to the alarm company. she couldn't find her purse and it further exacerbated that i was a stranger standing in her sister's lobby. at this point, she seemed to need to be alone, so i left, as she closed the door.

i understood standing in that lobby what our neighbor held dear- what a beautiful home she had created, complete with a dance floor in the front room and lovely things, probably collected over the years- all the more reason to get a tip-top alarm system in place to guard over what she had worked so hard to cultivate and build over the years.

for another 20 minutes the alarm blared on and i thought how penetrating that sound would be for one enveloped in it. i said a quick prayer for our neighbor's frightened sister and then started the bible study, talking about the word hospitable, that means both "shelter" and "place for healing."

i'm not sure that my intrusion into her sister's lobby communicates love, but it was a step in the right direction perhaps.


Blogger Jason Elder said...

Yes, loving your neighbor. I've know a few parking hags like that. Wait, that's not very neighborly of me, now is it? It's hard to figure out why some people would rather call the police than the parker of the car. Maybe she desires control and that is one way to get it. I don't know.

Glad to know your pops is good. A "well-meaning pirate" is a good phrase, perhaps a "Harold and the Purple Crayon" episode.

Peace be to you,


9:43 PM  

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