In my quiet little neighborhood--the houses are not fancy or new. But they were new at one time. In my quiet little neighborhood there lingers the joy of my childhood--memories so loud--I can still hear them.
The road is quiet this evening. No traffic and I can walk in the middle, on the left or the right. I can walk in the tender new spring grass or I can walk on the crackling winter leaves at the edge of the woods.
My neighbors--Many have lived in our quiet neighborhood all my life. The preacher and his bride are outside in their yard on their nightly stroll. Their daily exercise. To keep her balance she is pushing a pink shopping cart--a gift from her boys. And I stop for a few minutes and give them a simple gift of a dozen eggs--from the girls. I open the carton to show them the many colors and he tells me he used to work in the egg business. And he reaches into the carton and begins turning each egg. 'They taught us to turn the eggs with the small side down,' he said. ' It helps with the air pocket. You know when you make those good ole deviled eggs.' Oh yes sir, I know about the goodness of them deviled eggs.
'What do you think of our new mulch around the house? Looks good don't it. I had someone come and put it down for us. Mulch is high right now!' he said with a smile.
It did look good. Really good.
They thanked me--these neighbors of mine. The preacher--he's in his 80's and still restores antique cars. And his bride, also in her 80's--she is an artist--writing, illustrating when her crippling hands will allow and sings and plays the keys on the piano--heavenly praises to the Lord. And she expresses her gratitude in the humblest of ways.
I stroll on further in this quiet neighborhood of mine and see my Mama in the big picture window. She's cleaning the sills. And I stop to fix the fence rail for the umpteenth time. I wave but she doesn't see me. I walk on and there in her back yard is a herd of deer. She feeds them on some days--she and my neighbor cousin. And they watch me--all fourteen eyes glaring and tails twitching. I try to assure them I'm just passing by--taking the trail to their sacred woods. Winter is still here. But there's these buttercups or daffodils as many of us call them, jumping out on the cusp of spring. They refuse not to grow in the thicket--one prodigal scattered here--a family there.
And as I make my way around the barn, through the field, there she is perched on the twig of the apple tree in brilliant blue. The beauty of the bluebird returns for spring. Just as they did last year. Sitting watch on the clothesline over their homes.
The girls are watching me through the wire of their own home thinking I'm back with a second round of mealworms. Their nesting boxes are once again a harvest of colors. No more mealworms today I tell them. I give the girls my thanks for the fruits of their labor before making my way back inside the house. I grab a new egg carton and gently place each egg--small side down. Just like the preacher told me.
The stillness of the evening--it lingers on for a little while longer and my heart becomes quiet as I remember the images. Babies lined up in cribs. Mamas clinging to their children. Their belongings what little they can carry, weighing down their backs, their arms. Teenagers gathered in basements, bomb shelters reading. And men hugging tightly to families--knowing this could very well be their last good-bye. And there is prayer in the images--and the hands and feet of Jesus working--greeting them at the borders and in other areas. Images of war. Images of despair. Images of hope.
Dear Ukrainian friends and those helping at the borders and those inside of what used to be. I wish you could have been with me this evening. Walking in my quiet little neighborhood. I feel at a loss sometimes as to what to do for you. But my Daddy wrote these words in his journal before God moved his home to heaven. He wrote, "What to do when we don't know what to do. Pray.' And this I know without a shadow of any doubt. God not only hears our prayers, He listens. And He answers and the same God I saw in my quiet little neighborhood on this night is the same big God who sees and hears you.