My Neighbor’s Hand, by L.Willows
Yesterday I broke a rule. It was a beautiful day and I was eager to take a walk in the morning so I was “suited up” with my mask, sunglasses, sunscreen, tissues for my hands as I would need to handle some door-nobs and the elevator buttons in my apartment building to exit and a sun hat for protection when I walked. I had ear-plugs so that I could listen to scripture on my iPhone as I paced through God’s beauty in a nearby garden park. I was set to go and covered with protection.
But life is full of the unexpected. As I locked my door and glanced down the hall I saw my neighbor that I had not seen in many months. She is an Ethiopian woman in her nineties that I have revered and deeply loved. She is my friend. Since the beginning of the Pandemic, I have not been able to visit with her. Her Caretaker told me that her sons and family stopped visiting at the same time so she has been alone- something which never happened before COVID. I remember that her home was full day and night “before”, filled with the aroma of Ethiopian cooking and the chatter of her visitors.
There she was in the distance in her cotton whites that fell upon the ground as she slowly struggled to walk in the hall with her Caretaker. She looked fragile. I waved and she waved back. My heart was drawn to go to greet her. Most of her petite face was hidden beneath her mask. It was a sweet reunion. Her large eyes were shining. I took off my prescription sunglasses. We were probably both blurry eyed. Her vision was most likely better than mine.
“Oh Sweet One. I have missed you. Are you well?” I asked? She looked directly into me with concern and said, “Yes. Yes. Well, but I am feeling very weak. I have not seen you. I walked by your apartment but did not see you. I was worried about you. We don’t see you. So much time…” I told her that I was home all the while, the same as she was, just staying safe inside of my apartment and that I was fine, very good!
I put my hand upon hers. It was the first time that I touched a person’s hand since isolating in the Pandemic. (the Rule-breaker alarm went off in my head) I said to her, “Is this alright? Is it alright that I touch your hand?” I knew that I was breaching the “code”. She looked at me knowingly. Then she placed her other hand on top of mine and cupped mine as if in a blessing.
The breach became Blessed. In that moment, I knew that love was stronger than anything in this world. Is the Love Code larger? When? How? Why? I did not intend to break the laws of man or to disobey safety. The moment seemed to be pointing to a deeper truth.
I did not “think” in the moment. It only felt full, lasting with Love and sent to me by God’s Spirit. The memory is vivid to recall. I pray protection for my dear friend and for us all. As I walked afterward, I prayed in all of God’s beauty for my precious family, my spiritual family, my community, the suffering everywhere and for our wisdom and discernment as we walk forward with our neighbors- whoever and wherever in the world they are. Lord, bring us together as Your Own and give us hearts that do not know separation.
© 2020 Linda Willows