My Neighbor’s Gift

A prayer for today from Rev. Arthur A.R. Nelson:

I Need To Breathe Deeply

Eternal Friend, grant me an ease to breathe deeply of this moment, this light, this miracle of now. Beneath the din and fury of great movements and harsh news and urgent crises, make me attentive still to good news, to small occasions, and the grace of what is possible for me to be, to do, to give, to receive, that I may miss neither my neighbor’s gift nor my enemy’s need.

Precious Lord, grant me a sense of humor that adds perspective to compassion, gratitude that adds persistent to courage, quietness of spirit that adds irrepressibility to hope, openness of mind that adds surprise to joy; that with gladness of heart I may link arm and aim with the One who saw signs of your kingdom in salt and yeast, pearls and seeds, travelers and tax collectors, sowers and harlots, foreigners and fishermen, and who opens my eyes with these signs and my ears with the summons to follow something more of justice and joy.

The prayer resonates with my spirit in so many ways. Mostly, though, it causes me to recall these holy moments with my 4 year old neighbor Abigail, who almost daily is shouting at me/us from the edge of the fence: “Hey! Hey! How are you? Come over here and see me!” She, along with her little brother and dads moved in about a year ago. Her strong and tenacious calling out is a gift during a time like this. One day it’s “look at our fountain!”, the next, “I got a slip and slide!” Sometimes, though, the questions and opinions are more prodding: here’s a few I’ve gotten: “Where are your parents?” “Why do you live in that house?” (her finger pointing) — and “I’m not so fond of that color” as she calls out my lime green golf shirt. Abigail is most certainly fully alive and alert to life. One day, early on, she called me over and said, “so tell me about yourself”. And I did, and she told me about herself. A holy moment indeed. Time to breathe deep.

I reflect on our many small conversations with joy, as Abigail teaches me about what it means to be a neighbor — acknowledging each other’s lives and giving and receiving bits and pieces of life’s journey, breaking through the constant pull toward a more easy and simple co-existence, risking opinions and even invasive questions that call for vulnerability and express care. These are, as Pastor Art says, the “small occasions” revealing “the grace of what is possible for me to be, to do, to give, to receive.”

It makes more sense to me because of Abigail, all this talk of Jesus about the need to become like a little child. These days she is the presence of Christ for me.

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