Last weekend, I received some interesting, unexpected gifts. As I was getting the mail from my mailbox, I noticed a small scrap of paper in the stack. These words were written in what looked to be a child’s writing: “Were happy to have you as a nabor.”
Hmmmmm…..that’s odd—but it got weirder. Just outside my garage door, I found what appeared to be a gray, stuffed animal. Was it a bear or a dog? Not sure. When I picked it up, I discovered that it was actually a small bag filled with used toys—an action figure, a helicopter, a wooden car and some blocks. And, THEN, when I went out my front door, I found a matchbox car on my front doormat.
OKAY…..this is really weird. I began to come up with plausible explanations:
- There is a family in my neighborhood that goes to church with me. They are a participating in the Good Neighbor Experiment and I’m such a bad neighbor I haven’t noticed them.
- A parent is cleaning out their child’s closet and distributing all the old toys around the neighborhood. Brilliant!!! Why didn’t I think of that!
- There is a serial killer running loose and I’m next on the list. Not funny, I know, but it did occur to me that this would make a very creepy opening to a horror movie (watching too much TV, I guess— Criminal Minds, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit).
Honestly, I don’t know any of my neighbors well. I met a couple of them when I first moved in, but that’s about it. I’m usually running in and out or hibernating. That’s why these “gifts” caught my attention; they made me stop and scratch my head and ask questions.
Who left me this message, these toys and why? What was the prompting, what was the purpose? Was I the only recipient, or were there others? Should I visit my neighbors right around my house and ask if they did it? Should I leave some messages in mailboxes? If it were a child with this impulse to be neighborly, I’d like to encourage him or her and say THANK YOU and perhaps give them a gift in return. In other words, my first response was that I not only want to know who left me the gifts, I want to get to know my secret gift-giver. Their simple act opened up in me the desire to connect, the yearning for a relationship.
As of today— it’s been over a week—I’ve done nothing about the gifts. I have yet to reach out to any neighbors or leave any messages in mailboxes. But, every time I see the gifts—I have the message and matchbox car on my desk at church—I’m prompted to think about what kind of neighbor I am and what kind of neighbor I’m not.
This morning as I was taking out the garbage cans, the man across the street was doing the same. As usual, I was running a little late. But, instead of hurrying to make my get-a-way, I paused and waved to him really big and said, “Have a good day!” He waved back and said, “You too!” Oh well, I have to start somewhere…