So, just across my backyard lives my neighbor. Actually, like a lot of you, I have neighbors all around me. People who live close by, within a ball's throw. People that I don't spend a lot of time getting to know. Because, like you, I'm really busy. These days, who isn't busy? Who has time to just sit and talk to someone they barely know?
We moved into this neighborhood almost four years ago. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself I was going to go and introduce myself to the neighbors. Eventually (as in a couple of months later) I did, well at least to a couple of them. And, eventually, a couple of them came and introduced themselves to me. But, for the most part, we all retreated back into our hermit crab-like homes and lives. Only popping out briefly when we're going somewhere, and then gone again.
One problem we face today as a society is a breakdown in personal relationships. Relationships are the core of humanity. When we build relationships we connect. We are forced to step outside of ourselves and realize that there are others who have struggles, face fears, have needs, and stories to share. We just need to take the time to listen.
This is Mrs. Charlotte Hoppers, and this is Kasey, one of her beloved dogs. For four years we've mistakenly called her Mrs.Hopper. That might sound insignificant, however it's just one small detail that speaks of how busy we are and how easily neglectful we can be towards others.
My kids enjoy Mrs.Hoppers and she enjoys them. They love it when she brings out her dogs to run in the yard. During the warmer weather she spends time picking and pruning her many flowers and plants, and the kids quickly run to the fence to say hello. Today she was actually explaining to us her new collection of succulents. She took the time to explain to the kids what they were called and why they shouldn't touch them. (You very well know the boys didn't listen and touched one anyway!)
The conversation continued. We sat. And talked. I had dinner going back in my kitchen and felt the need to be in a hurry. But something inside of me just said, "Take a moment. Hear a little of her story. Spend some time getting to know your neighbor." So that's what I did.
The sun went down on our conversation. The kids laughed, played, and asked numerous questions. Mrs.Hoppers took their questions in stride and shared a little about her grown daughters, who are now her best friends. She laughed when I asked how long she had been a teacher, and replied, "a hundred years". The conversation we had really wasn't all that long. However, the impact of building relationships with people, well I hope that is something my kids will never forget.