Monday, September 20, 2010

Living Next Door to Jesus

Through the "Spiritual Laws" of St. Mark the Ascetic, I have read of the negative aspects for the soul in listening to or talk of others' sins. After first writing this post, my soul was not at rest. Could have been from recalling the ordeals. Regardless, in this present moment, now I revise what was written leaving out many of the details of harm, and emphasizing one of many Christian remedies: see Christ in others.

I live next door to Jesus in the Holy Lands. When people go on vacations, I have no need, for I experience a source of pilgrimage, a mission, and quite a trip--next door. This is the fourth summer of continuous harassment by my neighbors. The sheriff's department has been involved, Detective S., and the Postal Inspector. They, along with family, friends, and priest, have offered suggestions as to how to better protect and cope with the attacks.

Considering my entire yard is Mary Gardens, and that requires much work outside, the situation is rather sorrowful. It is also serious. Have been told to never park my car outside unlocked, to always have my cell phone on me, and now am in the process learning to record the rants, as they involve threats. 

I live with spotlights beaming into my yard and house most nights.
They did their best to shoot off as many large fireworks as possible into the gardens for the week prior to Fourth of July, discussing hopes of burning the trees. Bits of garbage have been tossed to attract geese and other pests. My photograph is taken repeatedly while I'm outside. The entire subdivision has been turned against me. Adults despise me, and children fear me, having been told lies (as have the adults) that I hanged their cat from my door.

It's been spread that I am a danger to children, have restraining orders against me by my own adult children, am a "whack job", and numerous other slanders. I was libeled in the city newspaper under a column in which people report good deeds of citizens as well as bad. The neighbor's story was published that I did in their cat in front of their little grandchild. Thus followed anonymous threat letters sent in the mail and strange packages left at my door from numerous sources, since what people read in the paper they believe.

By the way, their cat has been in the gardens on numerous occasions, and slipped in my house three times when the door was ajar. The cat is alive and thriving. Yes, I like cats. No, I do not want cats killing the birds and butterflies. These gardens are a haven for the more delicate and vulnerable creatures of God.

Yes, the sheriff warns the neighbors to stop. One year they moved out, put their house on the market, leaving a voodoo head in the gardens as a curse. The Bishop told me to pray, sprinkle holy water, and then burn it. Did that. But the neighbors moved back in after a few months, and tell people that the gardens prevented their house from selling.

The woman has repeatedly ranted, going into tirades of cursing, lies, and threats. The first time I called 911 was after she charged into my yard and stood in front of me screaming various epithets. She stopped just short of physical assault. 

This summer, goofy plastic crystals have been tossed into the gardens, perhaps some kind of attempted hex. It was threatened they'd paint 666 on my house. Youth of the neighborhood have been told I'm a witch and that someone needs to hang me.
Last night she asked her grandson to shoot his gun over my way. I had heard him saying earlier that he'd found more BB's, so I knew if shot, it would not be mortal. And by now, I realize being shot would at least bring an end to the continuous abuse. A couple years ago the priest said if they killed me, I'd be a martyr....

I have always prayed for them, from the start of this home venture. I'd had a dream after I purchased the house but before I moved in. I was in for some kind of soul assignment, at least with the husband. I had only seen him once from a distance when house-hunting, but in the dream he stood with a strange leer on his face, smiling. Concurrently, right behind him, I saw his corpse laid out in a coffin. 

The adult son has his own issues with honesty and destructive retaliation. His young son is being trained to fear and hate me. They all live next door. Sometimes another adult son and his son join in the evident game of trying to run me out of the subdivision. This is one of the threats. Yes, they are going to "take" me "down".

This summer I realized that praying for them is not enough, nor of offering sacrifices such as working extra in the gardens as penance, praising God and begging for their souls, using holy water, burying a blessed St. Benedict medal near the property line. 

No, I must offer more, for at times the fear threatened to overcome me, or more often, tears at the sheer sorrow of having made my largest and final investment in a small house and these lovely gardens--only to have on-going torment.

Must learn to see Jesus in them, literally, symbolically, and essentially. I trained my heart, mind and will. Jesus is now watching me in the front gardens. Jesus is now watching me in the back gardens. Jesus is watching me from the garage service door window, now the laundry room window, now the deck. Jesus is sitting in the idling car, watching me while I mow the front bit of grass. Jesus is talking about me all the while I'm outside. Jesus is taking photos of me. Click, click, click. Jesus is telling others about me as they walk by our houses, with me tending the gardens in view and earshot.

I stop short at thinking it Jesus who cornered me up against my shrubs with a lawnmower. I dared not look up or try to move, for the lawn mower was running and just six inches from my feet. Ah, but the man who plants for me saw the woman charge toward me with the running lawnmower, so he charged after. She abruptly turned the mower, charged back up the slope and put the lawnmower away. This was not Jesus, but I know that Jesus is there, so wanting them to not act like this. He loves them so much! I do know this!

Jesus allows them to shine the spotlights into the gardens and my house at night because He is the Light of the Neighborhood and He wants me to be reminded to pray for them and all neighbors. He wants me to be His light, too. Jesus is loving. I never have to turn on lights when I get up in the night to tend pain and cannot sleep. Jesus allowed them to set off the fireworks into the gardens because He wants me to pray for our country, and to trust Him that the trees and plants would not burn.

Jesus allows them to toss the plastic crystals--gems from Heaven!  He shows me where He wants me to plant another perennial or that He loves the tree or plant where the crystal is found. He reminds me of my late mother's creative treasure hunts for my childhood birthdays, a warm sparkling memory. Rejoice in the crystals!

I have the best life here. I live next door to Jesus in the Holy Lands. And, although it may seem contrived, the practice of training my mind to see Jesus and think Jesus in all they say and do, is helping me endure far better than in the previous three years of fears and tears. I am convinced Jesus is pleased, for the efforts remind me that I can see Jesus in every person and situation in every present moment. Because He IS.

"It is a great virtue to accept patiently whatever comes and, as the Lord enjoins, to love a neighbor who hates you....The sign of sincere love is to forgive wrongs done to us. It was with such love that the Lord loved the world."--St. Mark the Ascetic

I glued the silly plastic crystals on an iron cross that I painted gold, and call it the Cross of Triumph: a glittering reminder to me that in God we can turn any evil into good--if not tangibly, even better within our hearts and minds. When in the gardens, I can sing "Oh What a Friend We Have in Jesus," silently, in my heart. 

So I do live next door to Jesus. And yes, it would help if the neighbors spoke and acted more like Jesus who we know and love in the Eucharist, the Bible, and in our hearts. In faith, I hope some day to hear His voice coming from their deck. And I will glance over to see Him, arms around the neighbors, all smiling, admiring these glorious gardens that are His gardens...and His voice gently repeating: All peace on earth. All PEACE on earth!

A selection from the Breviary: On Pastors, by St. Augustine, bishop. "The sick person, however, is already ill by reason of some illicit desire or other, and this is keeping him from entering God's path and submitting to Christ's yoke....Now it is a part of the Christian's strength not only to do good works but also to endure evil....But there is at hand a consolation that will bind what is broken: God is faithful. He does not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (I Cor. 10:13).

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