Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every Blessing

Remember when I mentioned my Greek neighbors? I said that I was certain Levi's first word was going to be "Opa!" because their voices resonated through our house from early in the morning until late at night. We moved into our current home in the hopes of getting away from the noise pollution of the loud college students living above us. I was very disgruntled to discover that noise pollution is inevitable when living in close proximity in the city. And then in the way that we are usually humbled, I soon discovered that the elderly Greek couple, J and E, with the parade of family and friends coming in and out of their home, were the loveliest of people. It became a regular routine to stand on our front stoop, talking back and forth while Levi and their grandson sort of interacted in that parallel play, "Why don't you look at each other?" way. 

Our neighbors would grow all their produce during the summer months and come by with fresh spices and delectable figs from their fig tree for us to devour. When I started our first vegetable garden last summer J became my textbook for how to grow a fruitful garden. He was very patient with me and didn't even use the word "jungle" to describe our garden. J told me broccoli wouldn't grow and when I saw a little bit of a flower I was sure he was wrong. The little flower never materialized into anything edible. When Levi and I would go on our neighborhood strolls I would stop to check out J's produce and he would crush different types of Oregano leaves in his hands so I could smell and appreciate the difference. Soon the sound of the loud conversations between J and E became a part of what made our house a home. 

And then one day a few weeks ago I noticed silence. Were they out of town? Ben ran into our neighbors downstairs who informed him J was in the hospital with terminal cancer. It was discovered very late, recovery was unlikely. Today Ben is attending his funeral.  Events like these are a somber reminder of the shortness of life. By God's grace I discovered early on that our neighbors were tremendously kind, generous, lovely (and loud : ) people. It is an important lesson for me to learn that if I can look past my own character flaws (Low tolerance for noise, happy or otherwise), I will discover blessings all around me. 

Next summer when I'm growing my garden, I'll think of J and the lessons he taught me, about vegetables and life.