A Neighbor

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

1 Peter 3:8 (ESV)

I have wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that requires monthly shots in both eyes. I’m sure you just closed and squinched up your eyes thinking about it. Fortunately, the nurse does a good job of numbing the eyes first. I normally drive myself to the appointment but this week I thought I’d try LYFT since dilation adds a bit more distress to my vision.

The young man who picked me up was on the phone when I got in the car. With all that’s going on in the world, I wanted to make sure I had the right car. Anthony turned back to me and introduced himself, apologizing for being preoccupied. He was talking to his disabled mom.

I asked how she was doing and a conversation began that lasted until he dropped me off. He’s only been in Tucson for seven months, moving from New Jersey. He thought he had two jobs lined up before he left, but neither one worked out. He’s nervous because he is a single dad in addition to being a caregiver for his mom. He’s lonely and frustrated.

Anthony is most concerned about his nine year old daughter, Gemma. He happily showed me her picture. We talked a little about what is most important in raising her and that fancy things and money is not as important as a happy dad. I asked if they went to church and he said no. He told me his local family were those “born again” types and would have nothing to do with him. They were not willing to help, even when there was no food in the house. I gather he was quite a hellraiser as a young man but has straightened up, quit drinking, and works hard so he can take care of his daughter.

So he drives LYFT. Some weeks are good, some not so much. He shook my hand and gave me a big smile as I stepped out of the car at the doctor. I’m hopeful he will think of the chatty grandmother who happily returned that smile. I pray that Anthony will remember that going to church may be a good option and that another rider will water the seed planted.

I didn’t realize until I checked in at the front desk that dilation was not scheduled for this appointment. I could have been irritated that I had spent the money for a ride but the only emotion I had was gratefulness that I could visit with Anthony and give him some encouragement. God had arranged this ride.

Our news is overwhelmed with pictures and editorial about the situation at the border. It’s heartrending and the options are not good. I don’t have a good solution for any of it but don’t forget we have strangers that cross our paths daily. If we can give a hearty handshake, a genuine smile, eye contact, show patience, and a willingness to listen to their heart, we have shown love. They are our neighbor.

And what greater calling.

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