people have always commented throughout my life about the way i love others, with a full heart and an openness that few possess. they tell me it’s one of my greatest gifts for this world.

while i appreciate this and strive for more love and healing upon the world and the lives around me, i also see the dark shadow that looms behind me, the spidery darkness that can descend when nobody else seems to take notice.

we are living with a specifically challenging situation in the new place we have moved into. we have chain smokers for neighbors- and when i say ‘chain’ i mean it like i’ve never meant it before. at one point when their smoke filled up our whole home so strongly, my husband peered through the fence to get a look at the offender, only to find him with a cigarette in his hand with both feet kicked up onto the porch table, bare feet with a lit cigarette resting between big toes on both feet! i never imagined anyone would have the need for three lit cigarettes at one time!

this has been especially challenging, as this time of year when the gentle breeze blows, it send their not so lovely gift of second hand smoke our way, making us shut our windows even in warm weather, lest our home begin to take on characteristics of a bar or bowling alley.

this is hard when you are a person who values health and wellness, trying our part to live the cleanest lifestyle that we possibly can. while we are out learning how to plant an organic vegetable garden, we feel all the sicker for doing it as we are subjected to so much toxicity.

regardless of how this all shakes out by addressing this with either our neighbors themselves or their landlord, i have been made aware of a new invitation- an invitation to learn how to love some not so loveable folks in my life. (or at least learn to separate the people themselves from their behavior…i will never love their addictive and smelly behaviors, but i can learn to look beyond this and learn to love the humans themselves)

this will be a challenge, but i figured today was as good a day as any to begin.

so, what does beginning look like to me? i believe it will still unfold as i go, but what popped into my mind this morning while walking the dog was to start praying for every single house i pass in my neighborhood. let me say, it was not easy because i walk at a fast pace. they were no meaningfully crafted prayers and lingering blessings as i walked, rather they were like darty arrows sent in quick sentences. i prayed whatever the first thing that popped into my mind for each home and the the people who inhabit them. some were general blessings for their day, while other hits i got surprised me, with specific things such as financial provisions or glimmers of hope to keep living life, out from under their oppressive circumstances.

at times on this walk, my heart rejoiced with joy and peace, while others it took on a bit of a downcast and disappointed feeling…all very real human emotions that we all feel, as if the homes themselves had taken on the feel of their dwellers.

this reminds me of a book i happened upon awhile back but have yet to read called ‘the circle maker’ by Mark Batterson. it expands upon the story of Honi, the first century BC Jewish scholar who drew a circle in the sand and refused to budge from standing within it until God heard his cry for rain upon the parched drought of his land.

i believe this is where we have been planted to live and to learn for the next season, however long that may be. but we are here and there is no accident in having moved in next door to challenging folks, causing us to step back and look at how we react- will it be in love or in hatred?

i am choosing to draw my circle and stand my ground and learn all that God has for me in this as i cry out for help and assistance, illumination upon dark paths. i will not only draw my own circle for myself and my ground, but i will delve into this idea of walking circles around my neighborhood each morning, while paring for each one and where they find themselves and how they might better know love and comfort.

circle making here i come…