Muffled sounds of shouting came from outside. “I wonder what our neighbor could be so upset about.”
Peering out the front window, I spotted a car accident a few houses down. A man shouted from the sidewalk and a group of people had gathered on my front lawn.
However, one man stood out surrounded by the mob. His face bloodied down one side.
He was my neighbor, the one who never waved, never said hello, and always woke us up at different hours of the night with loud music and parties.
A man screamed at him. “What about my Jeep?”
I walked out the front door and stood on my porch.
“I need to sit down, can I just go home?” My neighbor held his head, staggered, and someone shoved him back into the middle of the mass of people.
Two houses up, his car sat horizontal across the road with the front end embedded into the driver’s side of a silver Jeep.
“Sit down! Right there!” A woman, standing next to him in the mob, pointed to my front lawn. Even though the snow was scarce on this day, rain had fallen all afternoon.
A second man, a relative of the Jeep owner, pushed my neighbor to keep him from escaping the circle they’d formed around him.
“I live right there. I’ll sit on the stairs until the police get here.”
“No, you can sit down right here!” The woman repeated.
Three little noses pressed themselves to the front window, watching with curious eyes. As I stood there, I pieced together what had happened. Part of me said to go back inside and shut the door. This was none of my business.
Yet I shouted, “Hey! He can sit on my steps.” I walked off our porch. “Are you alright? Why don’t you sit down on my steps?” I touched my neighbor on the arm. “The police are on their way.”
He glanced at me, dazed.
“He’ll stay right here,” snapped the Jeep’s owner.
“He’s telling the truth. He lives right there.” I indicated with my hand.
“He smashed my Jeep and ran from the scene.”
“He had something he threw. Probably drugs,” the woman interrupted.
“Let the man sit down,” I argued. “Would you want to sit down in that?” I pointed to the cold, wet ground and glared at the woman.
Sounds of police sirens resounded down the street. The Jeep owner threw up his arms and walked away. However, the other man and the woman continued to argue as the police arrived and arrested my neighbor.
Back on the porch, where those three little noses had been pressed against the window, they met me at the doorway. Their eyes met mine with unspoken questions.
As I shooed them away to help prepare for guests, my thoughts drifted to the young boy who lived next door and played with my children. Gratefully, he hadn’t been involved in the accident.
For then I thought of the man and his Jeep, another neighbor, and others involved—those that had to be right, and those who’d been wronged. Thankfully, no one had been seriously injured. Unlike the Jeep, people can’t be replaced.
Sadly, we have a tendency to forget how precious we are to one another.
Is this what Jesus would have us do? Did He want us to shut our doors and turned our backs on our neighbors?
A few months after this incident, I spotted my neighbor standing on his front porch. He waved and smiled at me and I knew then that shutting my door that day would have been a far greater crime than the one he’d committed.