Yesterday we received a beautiful bouquet of tulips from friends of ours wishing us all a happy Easter. Bright yellow and purple tulips just screamed "Easter" when I saw them. Well, I can rarely leave a large bouquet sitting in the vase it arrived in. So I started making smaller arrangements and placing them throughout our home.
As I was cutting down the last group of tulips, there was a knock at our door. There sat a container of petunias on my door step. Behind them stood my neighbor. His wife had recently passed away and these petunias were the last flowers she had planted.
"I'm not real good at taking care of her flowers," he said. "Although I think I've done ok so far. But I thought maybe you would like them."
I assured him that I would take good care of them, and that I would put them somewhere in my front yard so he could always see them when he walks by.
I wanted to share this story with you before Easter, not after. Because Easter means redemption. Foregiveness. And this story does too.
You see, my neighbor and I didn't actually get off on the right foot soon after we moved in. We've had a few exchanges over the years. Exchanges which I am totally ashamed of.
But soon after my cancer diagnosis, I felt such a need to apologize to a few of my neighbors. Many years ago, I could speak my mind if pushed a little too far. And when I did, I was mean and hurtful.
But when I heard that his wife had recently passed away, I did something that surprised me. Shocked me, even. I found myself making him a plate of biscuits, bacon and fruit to bring over to him following her funeral. He wasn't home, but I left it with his daughter.
The next day, I found a note in my mailbox from him. He wrote some of the kindest words on it. They brought tears to my eyes. Since then, we wave to one another when passing each other's homes and even exchange a few words when I'm out gardening. Good ones, that is!
I think we've both learned that life is too short to stay mad.
And I certainly have learned that I need to offer forgiveness to others because Jesus offers forgiveness to me. Sounds real corny, huh?
But oh so true.
That's actually one of the first things I did when cancer entered my life. I sat down and wrote apologies to a few people who needed to read my words.
Four to be exact.
And it was one of the best things I've ever done.
I try and live my life the way Jesus would have lived. Try being the operative word. And don't always succeed.
As I brought the petunias into the house, I looked at my daughter who was standing by the door. "I guess you're going to blog about this," she said.
"You got that right, sister!" I said as I headed over to the computer.
She remembers the years when I didn't look in my neighbor's direction.
Now maybe she can remember the years of two neighbors who may just become friends.