Back to the Present: What the River Really Left Behind

Love thy neighbor as yourself, but choose your neighborhood — Louise Beal, Silent Screen Actress (August 8, 1867 to November 18, 1952)

On Friday night vandals came out of their murky holes to roam the dark alleys where our empty houses sit and sigh for our return. After cutting the screen they broke the upper pane of glass in my kitchen window, but apparently did not gain entrance as the window was still locked and we found no sign of the intruders inside. Directly across the alley John’s house peers darkly at mine through other pieces of shattered glass as if the neighboring houses are commiserating with each other.

When I arrived at the house on Saturday, John had started mowing my lawn, refusing to accept payment from me even though he does professional lawn service as a sideline. “I wish I could move to the country away from people like that,” he exclaimed, after telling me about his window. It was only later that I discovered my window had also been broken.

While I waited for Cathy and Jim I admired the new front door they had installed on Friday. The door is a glistening white with a half-moon window at the top which mirrors the shape of the overhang, although we had no idea that it would when we chose it. Sometimes serendipity comes in seemingly trivial ways.

I have often called my house another Blessing from the Universe, ever since I moved into it after my retirement eight years ago. I was filled with new hopes and dreams of living out my later years in peace while I became more acquainted with who I really am–before I am no more–at least in this earthly body. I’ve always craved alone time to think and read and ponder, and during the past years in this house I’ve learned to let go of many old perceptions and to make room for new understandings.

As the shattered windows of mine and John’s houses sadly contemplate each other across the alley, I speak to other neighbors, here on this Saturday afternoon working hard to restore their homes to livable conditions. Hoping to either return to their homes or getting them ready to sell so they can move on from their current temporary shelters to other permanent places.

The entire neighborhood is being remolded by the aftermath of the flood and the neighbors who eventually return will feel the loss of those who leave. But rebuilding is a long process; it will be awhile before we all settle down into normal living once again. It helps to count the little blessings each day brings, such as the sandwiches and drinks thoughtful souls from churches and organizations still hand out, showing they haven’t forgotten us.

But for today’s little blessing, I’m reminded of when I first saw the house, the porch light shining beneath the overhang, welcoming me to this new stage of my life. So tomorrow I will get a new light to go with the new door and let it shine even brighter than before.

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