A moment I couldn’t ignore
How one woman forgave past insults and reached out to her neighbor in a challenging situation
After my daily walk one morning, I saw an ambulance with flashing lights pull out of our street. Just as I was about to go up the steps to my house, I saw one of our neighbors come toward me.
I stopped to ask what had happened, thinking it must have been his wife who had been taken away. Indeed, she had collapsed at home and the paramedics confirmed that she suffered a heart attack. They were taking her to a hospital in Edinburgh, some 35 miles away.
My neighbor had thought he could follow the ambulance to be with his wife, but he was advised that under no circumstances would this be permissible. Pain and distress were written all over his face, as he was left behind, feeling both bewildered and helpless. He was told to call the hospital in a few hours for an update.
Feeling his anxiety in this dark moment, I told him that my family would be praying for his wife.
Later that afternoon, while clearing the table from our meal, I saw that there was a good amount of food left. I immediately thought, “Maybe I could take this to our neighbor and ask if he had received any news.”
A moment of doubt then crept over me, as I recalled memories of past confrontations. There had been persistent bullying and derogative name-calling by his children toward our own, in particular toward our youngest child, who has Down Syndrome.
My one and only interaction with this couple (in an attempt to resolve the situation) was met with a barrage of insults. I once walked away from their door as their children hurled taunts at me as well.
As the years went by, a barrier had begun to grow between this family and mine, although we would greet one another politely when passing each other on the street.
But this was a new moment, one which I couldn’t ignore. This suffering was a reflection of the suffering felt by Jesus, abandoned on the cross, waiting to be loved.
So off I went with the plate of food and a prayer on my lips.
I was greeted by the very relieved face of my neighbor, delighted to share the news that his wife was out of surgery and in recovery. He graciously thanked me for my thoughtful gesture of kindness as he accepted the food. As we stood socially distanced, I saw him from a new perspective, and I felt from his part the same attitude.
The following morning, he returned the plate, sharing more good news: his wife was ready to be transferred to our local hospital, where he would be able to visit her.
Subsequently, I returned with fresh scones for him to take to the hospital. I was surprised to be greeted not only by him but also his wife! I was moved by her attempts to come to the door to thank me personally for all I had done.
A new joy was shared among us, and it was the joy of a renewed relationship, cancelling the past.
- Jacqueline Thomson, Falkirk, UK
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