“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6b NIV
My grandmother “accidentally” ended up living most of her years on Ruby Street. She never intended to live there – it was just a house she was able to purchase in a hurry while she tried to figure out where she and Papa were going to move next. I am so grateful for that accident. So much loving provision happened as a result of that “mistake.”
On the evening before Jimmy’s funeral, Pete and I drove into town and showed up on Ruby Street practically unannounced. It had been years since my last visit, but I knew we’d be welcomed – and we were. After all the greetings and catching up, Dot, Jimmy’s widow, came and sat in the living room with Beth and me. Here’s what she said at one point, “You know anytime I had a problem I would walk next door and sit on the porch with Mrs. Murdock (my grandmother), and she’d listen to everything I needed to say. And things would be better after that. I also knew that whatever I said would never be shared with another soul.”
Then we reminisced about all the appointments, weddings, and grocery store runs the Harwards made for my grandmother in her declining years. Never a great driver, the thought of her driving that boat of a vehicle around Durham sent all of us into a state of anxiety. But our family, though far away, had little to fear because we knew that she was well cared for by the family next door.
I’m sure they didn’t love perfectly or even adequately on some days – and I imagine that this is exactly how the occupants of Ruby Street felt while they were living life day to day. I can remember the challenges of using a shared party phone line by several families. I recall the years when someone would get sick, lose a job, or break the peace by acting weird or not keeping their lawn tidy. Beth and Scott remember how my grandfather used to yell at their dog when he thought they weren’t listening! (I can still hear that gruff voice too.)
But at the end of the day, and as this era winds to a close, all that remains is this abiding love for one another. That’s pretty good.
I wonder if you wish you could live like this. Guess what? You can! In fact, I see people living like this in my community every day. I returned home from the funeral and found two offices painted by hands I never saw. I left my kitchen in a big mess, but when I came home someone had cleaned it for me.
Small kindnesses add up to abiding love. Could you add to the supply today?