Our neighbor’s home is scary. There are Danger No Trespassing signs all over the property. There is a sign that says Beware of Dog. Another that says I Will Shoot Intruders.
His windows are boarded up and only a tiny peek hole exists in his door.
My husband and daughter brought him a Christmas card this past Christmas. But he didn’t answer the door—let’s just say, Richard was relieved. He was afraid of what was on the other side.
But today, nearly a year later, at the bus stop, waiting for my daughter to board the bus, the neighbor came out.
He was an old, frail man with tremors in his hands. My husband had the privilege of meeting him.
We will call him John, and he is an aging and lonely man. His wife left him for a drug addict years ago. His son followed in his mom’s footsteps. John has been left virtually alone, in his little wooden house, on a street that has gone from a horse lane to a speedy car lane. The world, once his friend, is now full of strangers for this elderly gentleman.
Neighbors that once seemed close, now with his disability, seem far. Life is hard on him.
And he began to open up to my husband addressing all of the “issues” that we’ve previously had with him.
“My signs,” John states, looking around at his property (about an acre+, mostly dirt), “I put those signs everywhere because people on horses come out and ride on my property. And I am afraid one time someone’s horse is going to trip in a pothole and someone is going to get hurt.”
Logic begins to replace fear.
Then he took my husband to his garden and with great difficulty pulled some green peppers off of a plant. “Here, let me give you some of my peppers,” he said extending the peppers towards my husband, his hands trembling violently.
“Well, at least I shook the dirt off for you,” John says with a smile as my husband humbly accepts his offering…
John then invites my husband in for coffee, but Richard has to get going for today.
But tomorrow…hopefully we will see John again tomorrow.
And, no matter what, today John has taught the two of us a lesson in humility.
So often we see the surface and are quick to judge. What we fail to do is take the time to go below and meet the person behind the barriers.
The people like John.