Neighbor M's father died recently, so I bought a condolence card, and took it around for each of the neighbors to sign. I'm sneaky, you see: I want to bless M. I want to bless the neighborhood by rallying them to a neighbor's cause. But I also saw an opportunity to visit each neighbor, and if invited, enter their homes.
"Looks like except for W, you have everybody," R said.
"Yeah, I'll get W. But I also want to get S," I replied.
"S? Oh man. If you don't come out, I'll come look for you," he joked.
The neighbors don't know what to make of S, who lives with her grown children but is never seen. Some of them are scared of her. R tells me that once S came into the court with a handgun, which W removed from her.
So I headed over and rang her doorbell. Little dogs inside responded, trying to sound vicious. A voice: "Get away from there!"
"S? Is that you?" I asked.
"S? It's your neighbor, Jon. May I come in?"
S came out instead. She hadn't heard the doorbell, she explained, and was yelling at the dogs. We sat and visited. I already knew some history: She was a pastor's wife, until he divorced her. She's experienced chronic back pain since an injury years ago. Her life is dark. "I think if I died, nobody would notice. The neighbors might notice my children wearing black — except that they wear black anyway," she said with a sad grin. "Nobody comes to see me. I don't want to think that God has forgotten me."
"That's why I'm here," I said, apologizing for not coming sooner.