My Neighborhood Circle
I have lived in my neighborhood for thirty-eight years. I have walked the circle path for thirty years. I know every drive way, each landscape and flower and tree like the back of my hand. Countless steps record memories of new babies being born on our block. Other steps remind me of the day I heard weeping in these streets because three teen boys were killed in an auto wreck on their way home from school. My memories include neighbors that moved out of our addition and new ones that chose to live here. All these mesh in the paths of my brain. I pray walk and talk to God about their different needs. Each time I walk a familiar “neighbor story” surfaces for a few seconds. Children have died, moms have been abandoned by husbands, and in the last few years three men in our small community have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Husbands have gained jobs and new opportunities that moved them from my circle path. Other families have lost their jobs when the economy turned for the worst. Many have battled cancer, heart conditions, and other illnesses.
Many of my former students now own these homes. It lifts my spirits when I pass by their homes and see how well they are doing on their earth journey. They frequently call out to me, wave to me, or stop me to tell me their latest family news or prayer request. These are the perks from teaching thirty-three years in the same area.
Tonight was especially warm and humid. I decided biking might be cooler than walking. I made numerous stops. First Jake had such a long face because school was starting already. Next, I passed Angie, who I taught 28 years ago. She looked the same to me, just a little more like a mom than a teen. We reminisced about past teachers of English at Delta. We laughed that she now had a senior there. The full circle of life was apparent to me as we talked of her days at Delta.
Next, I saw my neighbor, Ivy. He has been in Iraq the last couple of years. I have been faithful to pray for his safety and health. There he was standing on his driveway as I biked up his street. I stopped and gave him a long hug and thanked him for risking his life to protect our country. Tearfully I welcomed him back. He said all of our prayers had sustained him.
Then, I passed another teacher friend who had borrowed my recumbent today. She loved her ride to Gaston with her dad. She is convinced that she needs a recumbent bike. She was sneaking to a neighbor’s to engage in a playful trick. Her eyes sparkled as much as when she was a teenager.
These are my neighbors, my former students, my friends, and my inspiration. There are people in my neighborhood that need a hot meal, an invitation to our simple patio outings, or just a smile and a wave. These long walks have shaped me in many ways. Granted, they have strengthened my heart, as well as made me grateful for such wonderful neighbors. On my block, there are five families that have been neighbors for over thirty-five years. We really care deeply for each other.
Face to face friends and neighbors are essential to my character and daily life. God has graciously surrounded me with so much love and support. I guess that is why I keep walking the village circle. I am just blessed and shaped by my neighbors.