I met Meshi and Zimari today. For the last month they have been sitting in their little 3 room apartment afraid to come out. Except Zimari does leave for school which is just down the path a ways from their front door, but returns as soon as school leaves out. Their English is pretty good compared to many immigrants I have met, but they still feel unsure of themselves. Meshi waits, eager for her tired husband to return from work late in the evening. She sits all day, missing her other two children and mother and sisters who she left behind in Ethiopia.
I wonder, had Zimari not insisted that she be allowed to venture out to play a bit on the sidewalk just around the time my children and I were walking by, if I would have ever known we had new neighbors in that apartment, one I pass every day, many times. I could tell Meshi was so desperate for someone to talk to, but was almost afraid at the same time. Their apartment is nearly bare. She said they had enough food for tonight. How can it be that I did not know????
I find it amazing and almost scary at the same time that our homes in America can become hide-outs, fortresses or secret places where we treasure our protection and secluson so much we rarely venture out. Our closed doors and windows protect our privacy which we sometimes even feel we need to post to remind those passing by. At the same time, we leave the impression that those doors and walls should be impenetrable and not disturbed. Alarms and locks discourage all kinds of intruders, sometimes, even our own neighbors. I feel sad that someone new to our neighborhood felt that she needed to lock herself in to feel safe. I feel even worse that I did not pay attention well enough to realize there was a new family there.
Well, after a couple days of feeling alone with no one to talk to (except a 6 month old), I felt God rebuking me for pitying myself. I was out of tune with the Spirit - I could feel it. How selfish I can be! Here, right in my own neighborhood was someone more desperate than I. She was so happy to meet us and so sincerely grateful for the few grocery items we shared with them. She kept thanking us for talking and visiting . . . I felt like saying, "No, thank YOU for being the voice of Christ to me today!" Thankfully, when my focus needs adjustment, the Holy Spirit is strong enough and wise enough to push through my laziness to get me to see the world and my own neighborhood with God's eyes. Thank you, Lord.