The mystery has deepened…in more ways than one.
My next door neighbors, who I have written about on a few occasions, have been mysteriously absent recently. We are not especially close, though not intentionally distant. We just don’t talk, or see each other outside the house very often or have very much in common, really. We are busy. We aren’t Facebook friends. We are, what I call, “Hey” neighbors. We wave and say hey on the rare occasion that we actually do happen to see each other.
It is easy to notice when they are gone, because their gaggle of adorable boys is conspicuously missing from our yards—ours and theirs.
I had noticed their absence a couple of weeks ago and did not think a whole lot of it. I figured maybe they were on a vacation; it is summer after all, y’all. But it did make me go, “hmm” because they rarely take vacations.
And then I promptly moved on with my day.
After a few days, they were back—with a trailer that had some little-boy-looking furniture on it, though it was hard to tell whether said furniture was coming or going. And I did not ask. The same day, their third youngest boy stopped his bike in front of our mailbox and said to us as we were headed out to see Madagascar 3 (cute movie, by the way), “We are moving tomorrow.”
What? Um, okay. See ya later.
We took it with a grain of salt, of course, as the news was brought forth by a 5 year old who has been known to say in the past “we are moving”, which really meant “we are going to Virginia to visit our aunt for a week.”
The next day, Emma said she saw one of the older boys loading a suitcase into the back of the car where there were also some boxes. Hmm. Maybe they really are moving, after all?
Fast forward a few days, and the neighbors are, in fact, gone from the house, though it doesn’t appear that they are totally gone, as there are still potted plants out front and playthings scattered in the backyard.
I headed out to a ladies’ book club a couple of nights later, to which I had been invited by a fellow homeschooling mom slash new friend. It was a small group of ladies, the majority of whom I had never met and so the typical questions ensued. Where do you live? Where do you go to church? How old are your kids?
It came up in the convo that a couple of the gals at this gathering attend a particular local church—where my neighbor happens to be the associate pastor. I shared that their associate pastor is my next door neighbor. They proceeded to make the “isn’t it just too bad about…” face. When they saw my obvious confusion, I was told that my neighbor’s mother had passed away very recently.
Their absence was starting to make sense now. And then I felt terrible for them—and for not knowing.
But that still left the “we’re moving tomorrow” mystery.
In response to that, the ladies told me that my neighbors were had moved in with the now widowed father who lived in a nearby town. Which explained why there weren’t totally moved out.
I had a sudden guilt-and-shame attack for saying a few days previously, “Well, if they are, in fact, moving, I sure do hope they make sure to take their cats with them so they will stop scratching up my car and using my flower bed as their litter box!”
Yikes! The woman who professes to making friends with the lamp post can’t reach out to her neighbor and grow a relationship there? I can chat it up in line at the Piggly Wiggly or when I am at jury duty, but I don’t know that my very next door neighbor’s mother has just died? Why didn’t I know this? Jesus would have known if He had been living next door.
Am I really not so friendly after all? Am I afraid to go deeper in relationships? If so, what is up with that? And what is my behavior teaching my kids? What do I know about love, anyway?
Clearly, I have a lot to learn.
I know the world does not revolve around me and my family, but sometimes it would seem I don’t always live my life that way.
I have a lot to learn about love and selflessness and relationships.
I hope and pray that I can catch the neighbors if and when they come back to collect some more of their belongings, so that I can have the opportunity to share my condolences and offer to help them in some way. And to show them the love they deserve.
Perhaps a little life application of that Love Thy Neighbor thing is fitting. And that, my friends, is not so much of a mystery.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:34-40