We happily introduced ourselves to our new neighbors when they moved in several years ago. But they purchased the home for their future retirement, which means we rarely see them and have not developed much of a relationship. This summer my husband noticed the retaining wall between our houses was starting to crumble and was in need of an upgrade. He hired a contractor with a good price, but it’s taking a long time and the project has required the use of our neighbor’s driveway, which has not made them happy. In fact, they are often quite upset with us.
Last week my neighbor once again came over to tell me the contractor was not allowed to use her driveway to deliver supplies. I cringed and apologized. Later that day I went to Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte as a reward to myself for getting my mammogram. I was told this was my lucky day and due to training a new employee I was getting three lattes for free. On my way home, I felt these urgings in my heart that God had given me all this coffee to use as a peace offering to my neighbor. I went to her door and asked, “Do you like vanilla, hazelnut, or pumpkin spice?” Her eyes lit up with instant delight.
Then I proceeded to give her my perspective on the wall. Yes, it’s been a total pain to have our driveway completely torn up and a huge hassle to all of us. But I have just had to let it go, because in the big scheme of things it’s small. I told her about my fears during my recent surgery for melanoma, my deep sadness due to the unexpected and tragic death of my beloved nephew, and then the death of my dear friend’s wife from cancer. She looked at me in utter shock and then gave me the biggest hug saying she was so sorry for all my troubles. She said she thought she had seen my nephew come over to visit our house in the past. She asked if I had people praying for me because that was the only way I could get through all of this. I told her about my wonderful West Hills community. She empathized with the pain I was experiencing, explaining that when her mother died it took her five years to heal and her children did not understand. She sent me home with tomatoes from her garden.
The Light gave me coffee and courage, and in return I was given a beautiful connection of human spirits and a new friend.
—Mari Kay Evans Smith