Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: Opened Eyes
By C D Swanson
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"Oh sure...come on in Sarah. It's in the fridge, help yourself."
I walked over the soil stained rug by the fridge and pulled on the sticky handle which opened to a stunning reveal. Two containers of milk, a half loaf of bread and a stick of butter, nothing more. I was taken aback by this morning surprise and didn't want to take a cup of milk any longer, instead I immediately felt uncomfortable in doing so.
"Did you find it okay Sarah?"
"Oh...yeah...I've got it, not problem."
Linda's laugh seemed forced, "I forgot to go shopping this week, didn't have time. I've been so busy sewing costumes for the school play, time kinda slipped away."
I'd been in Linda's kitchen a dozen or so times and never took notice of the frayed yellow curtain around the window by the sink, nor the lack of appliances on the counter top.
She must have read my mind as she said, "I've been meaning to replace my toaster and microwave oven, but didn't have time for that either. These costumes need a lot of loving care; after all we can't have our children at church singing in the production looking anything but perfect."
"Did you buy a ticket for the church? You know a chance to win a shopping spree in town? It's a good opportunity, and also a chance to raise funds for the children's church. There are so many items needed for the class, especially new bibles."
Again, she must have read my mind as she continued, "I wish I'd children of my own. Lord knows how much I love them.”
"Sarah, you've been blessed with your twins Mary and Michelle are so beautiful and so smart! Well, I need to get back to my costumes if you don't need anything else..."
How could this beautiful lady live right next door to me for all of these years without my realizing she was in need?
In the solitude of my kitchen I looked at my collection of appliances, toaster, coffee maker, and microwave. I ran my hand over newly installed granite counter top, and looked down at my custom floor tiles. I swallowed tasting bitterness from within...physically and emotionally. Linda was my neighbor for years, what the heck was wrong with me? I thought I was a good Christian, attending church, smiling and being pleasant to those around me, taking care of my home and children, and husband. How did I miss being a good neighbor? Oh fudge! I need to remedy this...quickly.
“Pastor I need to see you ASAP."
"Are you sure it wasn't just an off day? Maybe she really did forget to go shopping? Maybe that's just what it is and nothing more."
"No, because I thought back to other events. She never was able to contribute to food drives, always offering an excuse. She never gives money at church, always says she lost the envelope. And, when we have special events, she always packs some food away saying, she has an upset stomach but will eat it later on that day. It all adds up now.”
We both put my plan together rapidly. There was no time to waste.
Later that week we watched the children perform so beautifully in their glittering costumes put together with loving hands. And, after our luncheon, we called the winning tickets for the raffle.
"Attention, we have the grand prize winner now. This will entitle the blessed person three years worth of shopping at the local grocery story, and a full supply of appliances for their kitchen at the Corner Store on Main, it also provides furniture at Mildred's Decorating Center. And, the winner of this grand prize is, Linda Arena. Congratulations!"
Tears blurred my vision as Linda walked to the microphone, "God is good all the time...all the time God is good."
"I'd like to donate these tickets toward the church to help defray the costs of the children's center. We need furniture, and food supplies, and Lord knows, appliances as well. So...I prayed to God for a way of helping my beloved little children, and look what he's done...He sent a whopping prize to fulfill my desire to give back to His church. Amen!"
I learned a great deal that day.
Linda was poor in materialistic items, but so rich in spirit.
I learned a great deal that day.
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