The neighbor’s dog continues to invade the vegetable garden. How do I know? The divots left by his paw prints are a clue. Avatar, that’s his name, has a habit of walking right down a row I’ve just planted. The fence needs fixing. It’s needed fixing for years. Avatar’s enthusiastic strength has accelerated the decay and demolition of a wooden fence that is probably 40 years old. He doesn’t mean to aggravate me by disturbing the seedlings just emerging from the soil, but he does. I thought the motion sprinkler might deter him: not Avatar. Our neighbors try to keep him contained, but I hate for him to be attached to a long chain all day.
We are ready to put in a new fence having saved enough to pay for it. Our neighbors want a block wall and have friends and family who will put it in, but he’s been out of work off and on for the last year. They don’t have the money to help pay for it and we don’t have enough to pay for a block wall. A solution will only come about if we keep talking to each other to figure it out. The opportunities to talk have been few and far between, but if it’s important we need to buck up and talk to each other, which I know will happen this weekend.
I’m grateful for neighbors with whom we can talk so we can work things out. Staying in conversation with people, especially when a situation is difficult is not easy. I have learned that this is when it is especially important and necessary. Staying in conversation in difficult times helps us understand a situation more completely and keeps us from objectifying other people. It’s not unusual for people to disengage when they don’t agree, or are uncertain. It requires more energy to stay engaged. It’s risky to stay engaged. However, the potential for increased understanding, healing and trust is something worth taking a risk for.
When I think of all the conversations in which Jesus engaged, many of them were filled with risk. They were filled with risk because he engaged in conversation with people who themselves were in difficult situations, situations that isolated them from other people. Jesus countered isolation with conversation. For those of us who follow Jesus, we are encouraged to counter isolation, our own and others, with conversation. Now go and talk to somebody.