Constructive Connections is a fiction series. They are beginning tales of how each person is crafted by God to fulfill a purpose, to enhance the narrative of life. By contributing unique talents to serve one another, a tower God calls us to construct begins to form for His joy.
3:27. Eyes pop open, dark room surveyed, heavy breathing sounds from the foot of the bed, red lines spell out “03:27 am”; the marker of morning. I feel my heart: Steady beat. Inventory the body: All seems well. Roll over and check the phone: Dark screen.
“Stupid 3:27,” I mumble and roll back over.
Every morning without fail, I wake up at 3:27 am. There has got to be some reason for the wakeup, I just can’t figure out what it is. Heater kicking on? No. Loud early rising neighbor? No. There have been cold times I’ve spent a minute wrestling the blanket thieving Golden Retriever. After I give up…3:28 am. I even remember waking up at 3:27 in Africa on the mission trip with our church. Continents away, 3:27 am happens.
Mowing the lawn. That is where my head is. Not my lawn…Jacob Meyer’s lawn. Informed by our church prayer chain, I found out he’s had another surgery. It went as planned, but he’s going to have a long recovery. I don’t know him real well, but I know how long my lawn is growing and I’m sure Jacob is not getting out to mow his own lawn with a push mower for a while. I saw a pic of him and his chocolate Lab on social media. He hunts ducks, I think. Noticed the camo motorboat and a large red Igloo taking up a whole seat. Must have to spend quite a long day hunting to need that much room for food. Probably no hunting for him for the next few months.
Poop. How is he going to scoop the poop from his lawn? It seems like it’s an easy enough task, but big dogs, big…you get the picture. Bending, scooping, tossing; it all takes core muscles. From what I understand, all those have been compromised by the surgery he had.
I remember when my dad had a similar operation. I’ve been living with him my whole life and I’ve come to expect to do the chores. But when he was fresh from the hospital, he needed assistance getting in and out of bed, getting dressed, and tons of other stuff.
Thinking about Stanley, the guy I sat and shared a chimichanga with yesterday. His cardboard stated, “Will work hard for food! Give Me A Chance!” Could he help Jacob? I brought many a chimichanga to share with the guys down at the river camp on my lunch breaks and thought about paying one of them to do the lawn for Jacob. They might not be in the place to help. I know that is an assumption. Sure, I’m full of judgment and assumptions, but I also think about logistics. How would they get to the house? Do they know how to pump the gas tank without flooding it? Would Jacob be ok with strangers on his property?
I can’t help thinking, “Where is our church?” Jacob serves in the food bank and is a stage actor for service plays. Our church members are good at praying. We are good at offering pity and “Did you hear what happened to such and such?” in between doughnut holes and coffee. But Jacob needs help with living tasks of the everyday. Who cooks or shops for him while he’s recovering? According to his social media feed, his kids are halfway across the country. And I know that he has been divorced for several years. How does he get good food that doesn’t come from the frozen food aisle? Who can get better eating frozen dinners?
My dad is a disabled vet. He came back from the war with PTSD and he could no longer serve because of injuries. Mom left shortly after he came home. Being 15 and in charge of my dad was an intense crash course in growing up fast. What I saw in the days that followed his return home was lack of help from his friends, lack of help from family. I didn’t know how or who to ask for help. My dad couldn’t ask for help. I’m 28 and still taking care of Dad. He has good days and he has not so good days. But because we live together, we support each other.
But Jacob. I wonder how he asks for help? Does he ask for help?
Stanley, with his thin stubbled face and kind eyes, said something that stuck: “We all need help sometimes. Jesus only provides so much. He came to earth to teach his kids how to notice and investigate what neighbors need…and to pick up the slack!”
Investigate. I think I’ll stop by Jacob’s house after work and bring him a chimichanga and his dog a ham bone to gnaw on. Maybe I’ll get a list of things he needs done around the house. I’ll ask around church and figure out how we can work together to “pick up the slack” and be better neighbors.
But I think I’ll wait till the sun comes up and the real alarm goes off at a decent hour.