Love Your Neighbor

She was standing by my mailbox yesterday afternoon, a thin woman with gray hair holding a little black dog. “Have you seen Sadie’s house?” she asked as I rolled down the car window.Love your neighbor 2

“Can you describe it?”

Her face went blank. “I don’t reckon I can.”

“Did you walk up this road?”

“No,” she said, “I came over the mountain.” I looked at her frail limbs and her thin-soled shoes and had a hard time imagining it. She pointed up the dirt road that crosses a cattle pasture and dead-ends at Sara and Buck’s home, insisting as she took a step toward it that Sadie’s house was up that way. I pictured her opening the gate and tangling with either the cattle or Buck’s highly protective dogs, and I said, “Why don’t you get in the car and we’ll try to find Sadie’s house together?”

She smiled, introduced herself as Hazel, and settled into the passenger seat with her dog on her lap. I didn’t actually have a plan, other than to drive around the neighboring hollers until Hazel recognized someplace or somebody. Blessed providence, as I was turning the car around at the end of the road, she spied the mailbox with the name Campbell on it. “Why, Campbell, that’s my son’s name,” she commented. I asked her his first name. “Jack,” she said.   Continue reading

Tearing Down the Walls

On my home altar, among other objects of special meaning to me, is a small chunk of the Berlin Wall. Twenty-seven years ago today, Germans streamed from all over their country with hammers and picks to tear down the oppressive barrier that separated East from West in their capital city. Exuberance and hope demolished that 79-mile, double, reinforced-concrete-and-barbed-wire structure with almost 300 watchtowers.


On this day in 2005, I made a pilgrimage to a crumbling remnant of that wall. Candles still burned there in honor of the almost one hundred Germans who had lost their lives trying to climb or tunnel to freedom on the other side. Placed inside cracks in the wall were dozens of individual roses, symbolizing reconciliation and unity. Continue reading