The value of a neighbor… how can one even begin to describe the true value of a great neighbor?
Today I sent a simple text to my neighbor, “Can I come over and return your sander?” I had borrowed this sander a few days ago when I couldn’t find my own sander. I had a table I wanted to refinish and my neighbor has more tools than one could ever imagine from her husband’s time as a builder, tinkerer, and all around manly man. She not only had one sander but a whole cupboard full of sanders of all types and sizes. I picked one that was exactly the same as my sander to cut down on the time (and possible YouTube video search) of how to change the sandpaper.
Her text back was simple “Yes.”
I headed over with her sander in one hand and my cell phone in the other (it’s almost a ¼ of a mile walk, you never know when one will have to make an emergency call because of a random deer or Canadian goose attack.
Three of my twenty-six goats were following me and I knew they would go straight for my neighbor’s roses if I allowed them to continue so I made a quick detour to our “goat escapee” pen by the garden. This pen is one we have for when goats escape their regular enclosures/paddocks and we either can’t figure out how they are escaping or I’m in too much of a hurry to fill in the tunnel they dug out with their tiny little contraband spoons smuggled to them by the cats. Elliott is a constant visitor to the “goat escapee” pen… he’s like the Andy Griffith Show Otis of The Shepherd Hobby Farm.
Elliott, Scipio, and Caesar are put up in the “goat escapee” pen with fresh hay and water and I continue my trek to my neighbor’s house.
Nala and Fuzzy, our livestock guardian dogs, leave all their responsibilities in the dust and happily trot out ahead of me hoping to sneak in when my neighbor opens the door. I ring the doorbell and there is a flurry of activity and barking behind the door. It opens a crack and I see a dog nose and hear a cheerful, “Come on in.” Had she taught the dogs to open the door or had she learned t throw her voice? I could have sworn she invited me in from the opposite side of the house…
I head in and have three large dog noses all up in my business. I caress their super soft heads and silky ears. After quickly handing my neighbor her sander I plop down on the floor for a belly rubbing session on her gorgeous black lab. Another dog comes over for attention and some face licks while the third dog heads to get a toy to lure the second dog away so the third dog can sneak in for a good booty scratch. I pet and rub and rub and pet. A little scratch her and another there. Dogs are on their backs and paws are on my shoulders pleading me to continue… so I do. Dog hair is going EVERYWHERE and I apologize to my sweet neighbor as she tells me all about how her Labrador just lost his toenail (OUCH!).
My own two dogs pace outside back and forth from the door to the windows trying to get my attention… my neighbor’s attention… the dogs’ attention… ANYONES ATTENTION!
My neighbor and I chat about this and that… Tropical Storm Erika, seasons, gardens, flowers, bees, hummingbirds, dogs, cooking, goats, projects, health, vacations… ya know, all that stuff that makes up the chit chat you have when you both just really want to be in each other’s company.
And then she said something that will stay with me forever… we were talking about a vacation that our family will be going on and she said “I miss you when you guys are gone.” She misses me… my neighbor misses me. Truth be told, I miss her as well when she heads out on a vacation. I love when she comes home and I love hearing about her adventures. We care for each other’s houses and dogs while we are each on vacation and we meet for lunch on the same day every week together (me, her, and my two sons). If a day or two go by and we haven’t checked in with each other via text, call, or meet up by the garden we reach out to “check in.” I can’t even begin to explain how this relationship feels so natural and mutually beneficial when we’ve only known each other for six years!
When I have a campfire she texts me to make sure everything is ok because she sees smoke coming from over by our place. If I accidentally have my phone on silent and don’t hear the text she comes over on her way to get groceries just to be sure all is ok. She’s not being nosey folks, she’s being loving and I learn new ways to be loving every day from this woman. When I’m at the store I try to remember to text her to see if she needs anything because I am following her lead of how to be more Christ-like and kind.
So you may ask why I go on and on about this neighbor of mine… well, I do so because it was just a really good day with my neighbor and it may encourage others out there to reach out to their neighbor or a person they would like to get to know. Looking for ways to serve others sets such a fine example for your children and building relationships with those in close proximity to you is important to foster that sense of community.
“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Surely part of loving in this way is trying to understand what another person wants us to understand. I may not understand perfectly and I may not agree, but if I love you I should try to know what it is you wish I could know.” –Kevin DeYoung
Every moment I’m with my neighbor I have my listening ears on so I can truly hear and try to understand what it is she wants me to know. There is wisdom with this woman beyond measure. It is a wisdom that comes from reading God’s word, living a Christ centered life, and going through trial after trial with eyes and heart focused on Christ. Do you have someone in your life like this? If not, get one! But please, stay away from my neighbor… she’s mine, all mine 😉
Toodles and may the goat be with you…