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Today I got an email from someone, about a difficult neighbor. It triggered a memory from my childhood.See, we lived in a court. This was heaven. We had a huge back yard (by suburban standards for neighborhoods built in late ‘60s). But that court! It was our basketball court (with trash cans), our street hockey rink, our wiffle ball diamond, and kick the can empire!
But other people lived in our neighborhood. And one of them often called the cops on us. It was a regular thing that any game in the court involved seeing if neighbors were home and guessing the likelihood of the cops showing up because we wanted to play catch or we might make too much noise while playing a game. Many days mom would say, ‘play in the back yard today.’ Other times a ball would go into their yard, and we knew the game was over until we could mount an operation under cover of darkness to sneak into the yard and retrieve it. No fence, no security, just the certainty that if we were seen stepping on their grass the cops would be called.
I don’t recall my parents every saying an unkind word about this neighbor. Or the others that would walk their dog always stopping in our front yard, and you know what I mean. You see, we stood out: eight children and Catholic, and with parents not afraid to invite others to know and love the Lord.
After all of us were adults and grown, this neighbor knocked on the door one day to ask my mother for forgiveness. Personal pain and loss had hardened hearts against the Lord, and the closest target was the noticeably Catholic family neighbor. Tears were shed, and my mom was overjoyed to embrace in forgiveness. I like to think that this neighbor and my mom are hugging right now in heaven.
I asked them both to pray for difficult neighbors. We all might have one. I thank my mom and dad for teaching us to “Live by the Sprit, Walk by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, through kindness, really does melt hearts.
Pax et Bonum,