April 26, 2004

Defining Difficulty Downward

Okay, so it's Sunday and I'm out in our private glade, out on the back porch framed by the Norway spruce and mulched beds and the glass table is post-Windex pristine and I'm caught up in the rapture of reading (aka "verweile doch"). My wife & son are asleep.

And it's always when I try to define time as mine that I'm reminded otherwise.

In other words, there's no chance in hell I won't be interrupted.

Our neighbor, with whom I feel I have nothing in common given our age/sex/religion/reading differences (although to be fair I tend to feel that about most people) is a sixty-plus retiree and is the neighborhood expert on the other neighbors. Nothing escapes her gaze. She ferrets out information better than any reporter and I look up long enough to see that she spys me through sprigs of pine needles. A quick wave. I re-bury my head in my book but it's too late. She breaks the imaginary Maginot line and thirty minutes later I've finally exhausted her interest.

What interests me about this episode are various & sundry. One is the clash between theory and actuality. In theory I'm a small town guy, singing John Cougar Mellancamp's song. I'm all for neighbors being neighborly and I'm always railing against the atomistic, individualistic, cold world we live in, while, frankly, being atomistic, individualistic and cold. I like the idea of Gomer Pyle, small-town neighborliness better than the reality of it. This is extremely off-putting.

Second, I made a common mistake. I considered not this individual visit, harmless in and of itself, but looked ahead. Never look at the future for today has problems enough alone said God. The future presented itself as an endless series of these visits because she is obviously lonely and will be getting lonelier since her husband is in extremely poor health. She will be a widow and there will be much more call to be neighborly, even to be surrogate family since her children never visit her. Time to call on St. Therese.

Little Flower, give me your childlike faith, to see the face of God in the people and experiences of my life, and to love God with full confidence.

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