This morning I went out to gather some manna lying on the back lawn. As I bent down to retrieve the fruit provided by the Lord, a voice said, “Hello! Want some beans?”
A thought raced through my mind, who would be asking me that?
I looked up to see the smiling face of a lady coming toward my back fence. She had a plastic bag filled with beans–”footlongs”, she called them. Indeed some were a foot long–but they weren’t very good. She explained she didn’t let them get that long because she liked them small and tender. Where did she come from?
I had another plastic bag which held the “manna” I’d just collected from the ground. The stranger extended her hand and gave me a large handful of beans. “Want more?” she offered digging deeper into her harvest bag. I thought about how I’d planned to go across town to the grocery today to get fresh veggies for dinner. I thought about how God was supplying the very need I had from a stranger.
A stranger bearing gifts. I thought about how she and I had never met. Four years we’d lived here, and I’d never seen her before that moment.
As she chattered on about the beans, she pointed to the dark green vines hanging across her eight-foot privacy fence. I loved that fence. We have a four-foot chainlink. No privacy there. I’d met her friendly husband when he was trimming the variance between our properties, two years ago. Had it been that long since Ernie and I exchanged pleasantries? I thought about how he’d offered to let us use his tools anytime we needed them. We never did. I thought about how neighborly he’d been. I thought about how I’d planned to be a better neighbor. I thought about my son, Chad, and how he’d only lived in his house for a week, yet knew every neighbor within a block of his home.
It’s amazing what thoughts can run through one’s mind while talking with another. She had an accent. French I think. “My name is Jacqueline,” she shared as she dipped into her bag again and stuffed more beans in mine.
“My name is Hariette.” She repeated my name with correct pronunciation. “Hah-ree-ET?”
I thought about how I’d just told a blogger friend of mine (who knew me only as SelahV until sbcImpact announced my name) that the reason I didn’t use my name is I didn’t like it. In fact, I hated it. “No one ever pronounces it correctly. Some even call me other names entirely–Henrietta, Hillary. How bad is that?” Now, just a few days later a stranger meets me and greets me and knows exactly how to say my name. Amazing! Is God trying to tell me something?
The conversation went on and on. You’d think we’d known each other for years. She told me how to plant those beans next Spring. She went back to her fenceline and grabbed a few matured pods with dried beans in them. “Seeds,” she said. “Just plant them in the ground next Spring. Throw a little dirt on them and they will grow and grow.” She pointed again to the flourishing vine on her fence.
So consumed with myself, my difficulties, my problems, my life–I’d made no time to reach across the divide and make an impact on another’s life. Oh, I had good intentions, mind you. I’d told my husband I wanted to have a little block-party and invite some of the neighbors. But intentions don’t get the job done, ya know? I’d reached no hand across the fenceline.
Today I wonder. What will become of the seeds God planted in my life today? What impact will I have on her life in days to come? Will it flourish and grow into something God uses to encourage her? Does she know my Lord? I don’t know. But God has planted in my heart a yearning to know. And I won’t discover the answer sitting here. selahV
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” Ecc.11:6 selah
[copyrighted, hariette petersen, 2007]