Friday, April 11, 2014

The Better Way

"Which way did you come?" Our neighbor asked, looking down at our muddy feet.

"Up the red road. The way we always come." I responded, self consciously scraping the mud from the bottom of my sandals.

"Up the red road? No, no. That's much too muddy. There is another way. I'll show you."

For weeks, several times a day, we walk the red road. After a rain shower the pot holes fill with water and the mud is unavoidable. I stand at the edge of the largest puddle and try to decide whether to jump, hoping I make it to the other side and risking a very muddy splash if I don't. Mostly I just tiptoe across on discarded water bottles and whatever other garbage pokes above the puddle's surface.

Following our neighbor, we walk to the gate on the other end of his garden. "This is the better way" he says, swinging the gate open.

The better way is a small sandy path with homes crowding in on either side. Trees shade the path and neighbors we didn't even know we had sit or stand together in afternoon conversation.

We follow the path and our neighbor shows us where it comes out to the main road. Walking back up he points out the opposite end, which stops just before our home.

The path was there all along. A better path, free of deep mud and red clay, right in front of us. We didn't find it ourselves, it took a neighbor to show us the way.

So much of our life right now is a muddy red road. As we spend time with people, trying to build relationships, we are shown new paths. Dry, shaded paths, leading us right into the heart of our community.

The dry path, as it disappears under the tree between houses.

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