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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Season in Your Path

Life brings people into our lives sometimes forever and sometimes just for a season. Who or what determines the timing of it all is to some up for debate. It doesn't really matter how or why people come and go, it just matters that they do. I have a friend, Jan, who I have known for 30 years now. She is one of those forever friends that has been by my side since we met. I've been through hell and back, some of the hell by my own choosing, and still she remains one of my dearest friends. There are also those friends who I grew up with and over time have lost touch with them. There are no reasons, if you will, for losing the connection. There is just the process of growing away from each other that happens. Seasons.

Mike and I moved into our apartment almost a year ago and although we know the names of most of the dogs in the complex, we don't know their owners names. There's Buster, Rosie, Pookie, Lulu, Lala, Feona and Banshi. The owner's names? Well, we'll get to that one day. But, there was one man whose name we learned because he introduced himself to Blackie, our dog. He was a very special neighbor whose life was hard. When we moved in, he would merely observe us from a distance. At first I was a little unnerved by that feeling of someone watching me. As time went by he became less afraid of us. He was a gentle man and because of his mental state, I fear that most of his life he was ridiculed and came by his fear of people naturally. The first time he spoke to Mike without prompting was when Mike was outside with the dog and seemingly out of no where Mike heard someone say, "I like your doggie". The voice came from somewhere above, and was a little startling. Lonnie was on his balcony watching Mike and the dog. Winter came and from a comfortable distance for our neighbor we looked after him. If we saw him leaving the building on a cold day without a coat, we would remind him that it was too cold to be without and most times he would turn back to get warmer gear.

This week Lonnie's mom came to move our neighbor out. It was a short season for us to learn, what little we did, about a man whose struggles within seemed much more intense than anything I may ever experience. I am thankful for the season we had in his path. Because of this, I have learned more about myself; my level of compassion, my ability to care for someone who never spoke my name.

Nobody really loves winter, I am told. The cold of winter causes us to stay inside where it's warm. Sometimes that's just where we need to be. My heart can be a pretty cold place unless I am willing to come inside to stoke the fire, the fire of compassion and love for those closest to me and for those whose lives I may only touch for a day. I will do this because of those who have observed me and watched out for me during the stormiest seasons of my life. Some knew my name, some never will, but still they prayed and I am convinced that I am who I am today because of it.

Thank you Lonnie, for teaching me again about seasons.

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