community, spiritual life

Liking my neighbor

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” Fred Rogers, creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, an American television show

Dumb cane. Pretty house plant or the roots of community?

There’s a widower a few houses down whom we refer to as Plant Guy. This is because he gives us plants out of his household abundance, which overflows his front porch every summer.

“Do you want some dumb cane?” he asked a couple of summers ago. I said yes even though I had no idea what dumb cane was.

He sent me home with a bucket filled with dirt and three bare, green sticks. In a herbaceous miracle, they have since grown to take over a corner of our stairway landing, with leaves so broad and glossy it’s easy to imagine assembling them into a skirt. Eve style.

Plant Guy is also the source of multiple other plants that spill from tables and window sills both in our home and in my husband’s workplace. What a neighbor, Plant Guy.

And, his generosity goes beyond plants. He maintains a water bowl at the end of his sidewalk for neighborhood dogs and cats who might be thirsty. When his wife was still alive, he once gave each of our then-little daughters a gold dollar coin just so they could turn them in their fingers and watch them sparkle on our walk home from the playground.

So, you can imagine our surprise last fall when Plant Guy suddenly sprouted political signs that expressed sentiments we do not share. Had he suddenly lost it? Was he a closet badnick? Or, was he just looking at the world from a different perspective?

We considered what we know about the man and finally decided on the latter. Some people have taken their perspective and spewed hatred here, there and everywhere. Plant Guy has not. Some people have taken their political opinions into the criminal arena. Plant Guy has not. He’s a plant-loving, dog-loving, people-loving man with whom we have a difference of political opinion.

We don’t like his opinion, in fact. But, we do like Plant Guy. So, we’re going to just keep on being neighbors. Day by day. Week by week. And, come summer, I expect I will again be carrying home a bucket of dirt and what looks like nothing. I suspect it will turn into something wondrous.


32 thoughts on “Liking my neighbor”

  1. This was lovely. I, too, have been shocked to find people I care about, who are so completely on the “other side”. Hoping our new President will work to heal our divides.

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  2. Hey, Nancy! Praying Washington, D.C. will function well — every nation needs good government. But, I suspect it’s going to take all of us and the grace of God to restore unity. God is able. Are we? I sure hope so!!

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  3. Thank you!! ❤️ Thank you for being kind. Thank you for allowing a person to have a different leaning yet not proclaim him ‘evil’. May God bless you for allowing someone to think differently and not vilifying him for it. We do not have to embrace something a person believes or thinks, but we do still need to embrace that person. When I grew up many of my friends had different political opinions yet it did not affect our friendship. Same with my friends of different colors. Thank you 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome! I’m surely not perfect in sharing God’s love, but I’m trying and God is able. Hope you and your doggies are doing well out West and that it’s nice and sunny.

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  4. Thank you Nora for this incredibly refreshing post. Your words painted a beautiful picture of what could be an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I can see Plant Guy welcoming Mr. Rogers onto his porch and handing him a bucket of dirt. (A neighborhood cat off to the side lapping from a bowl of water). Delighted Mr. Rogers returns home where he gives us a lesson on how to nurture plants and how to nurture relationships despite differences in perspectives and opinions.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Probably most American neighborhoods are the same as you are experiencing. We’ve seen a lot of that, as well. People work too hard in many ways.

      Where we are is my favorite neighborhood that I’ve ever lived in. We’re tightly packed and know each others’ business whether we want to or not. Houses are big and have front porches where people spend a lot of time. It also seems like nearly every house has a dog who is walked once or twice a day. We all see each other and talk all the time. It’s meant a lot, especially during COVID.

      I suspect a desire for community is behind people returning to downtown living. That’s even happening in my small city. People like people — even aggravating people. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 Miles and Mr. Hollywood must be cut from the same cloth. Miles is kind of a goodwill ambassador. This weekend he sat outside our tiny meat market and solicited attention while my husband was inside buying something revolting for a biology lab. Every customer stopped to pet him and the market owner sent out a tidbit for him. Spoiled!!

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  5. What a nice post to share, Nora. Thank you. Over the past four years it was hard not to equate people with their political views. I hope Plant Guy didn’t get too much of a cold shoulder by his other neighbors…

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