Day Two of 40Acts:
Second day and I already feel overload. This morning, before leaving the house my head space was invaded by thoughts about what it means to like people as opposed to loving them, how people need real practical support and not just passing good wishes or the promise of a prayer, and a question about who is my neighbour? And then came the 40Acts challenge which started with a simple question – how well do you know the people next door?
Reasonably well, I thought, thankful that in our Road we have always had pleasant, amenable and friendly neighbours who frequently surpass any of my efforts to engender a kindred spirit through friendly chatter, meals out, book club and the occasional meal in each other’s houses. I could certainly tell a tale or two about the Christmas parties we organised – for the benefit of the children you understand – and the men’s entertainment that was a compulsory part of the event. The planning meetings started around August and involved much fun and hilarity over a bottle of wine.
But that was in the past, the children are all grown up and gone – most of the adults too, and I got thinking about our immediate neighbours – all of a younger generation than ourselves. I asked myself how well do I really know them? And I realised that I had to think hard to remember their names – I have a real problem with memory recall and the names just wouldn’t come into my head. It took until lunchtime to remember the names of my next door neighbours! We have spoken over the fence, looked after each others houses at holiday times, shared dinner together and stopped to chat on many occasion, but I couldn’t get the names.
Getting to grip with today’s challenge was always going to be tricky. Like many, I leave the house not long after 8.00 am in the morning, and return well after dark. I rush around trying to prepare a meal before going out again most evenings – tonight being no exception.
So today, for me, it has been about reflection and resolution. I’d like to be able to speak with confidence to anyone on my Road – starting with their name. I don’t want to have to pretend I haven’t noticed my neighbour because I can’t recall their name quickly enough to avoid insulting them. This I do, all too frequently. I have employed all sorts of measures in the past to get the names to sink in but today I bought hearts to remind me to love my neighbours and I shall write their names on the hearts and repeat in parrot fashion as if learning the times tables, until I no longer have to fish around frantically into the recesses of my brain in the hope of turning out the correct form of address.
Seems like a cop out? Believe me it isn’t….. today I referred to a friend in Uganda instead of Zambia, and I told another I was going to Yorkshire when I am going to Derbyshire. We all struggle with different things and that is what I love about 40Acts. It is not about ticking prescribed things off a list, but about doing what you can with the challenge and making it your own.
Right I’m off to practice the names of my dinner guests tomorrow (hopefully I am only joking!)