Yesterday morning as Max enjoyed his breakfast, I sipped my coffee and watched the clouds drift across an electric blue sky... a sky so blue I imagined God uploading it to Picasa and hitting the 'saturate' button to achieve it.
Two Great Blue Herons flew down the Hollow in front of me, following the creek towards the lake. For a second I considered rushing into the house and grabbing my camera, but chose instead to just sit there and enjoy it. Even Max stopped eating long enough to watch them, too impressed (or intimidated) to bark.
I think we both felt we'd been blessed.
As the heron couple disappeared into the distance, I hoped they weren't leaving the Hollow for good. The ponds levels have dropped; some are completely dry. On top of that (and because of that) work has resumed on the neighboring property with a vengeance... the hum of engines now fills the Hollow, even filtering past the thick walls into our house, from sunrise until well after dark.
Large rocks cover the eroded section of the dam now. Weeds along the side are mowed short and fresh dirt is piled on top and tamped down with a rolling compactor. But it's still massive and unsightly from our view, essentially deforming our pond, making it resemble a Walmart retaining pool.
The last few months of no activity made it easy to believe it had all stopped for good. Maybe they'd changed their minds? We knew it was a long shot, but it didn't hurt to dream. However, it still wasn't a fairy tale ending, because the damage to our pond had already been done.
But now seeing the heavy equipment... hearing the engines all day... watching the smoke from a smoldering, unattended bonfire drift into the morning sky... it's like having a scab ripped off of a wound.
I should make it clear that what frustrates us has less to do with having to look at the green wall (although that's bad enough) than it does with the total lack of respect and honesty that we've been given... as well as the lack of regard for our property and for the beauty of the Hollow. It's so... well, disheartening seems too weak of a word, but it's all that I can think of right now to describe it.
It hurts me to see Tom hurt, frustrated... disheartened... this man who would drop whatever he was doing to help a neighbor in need... and who has put so much of himself into this dream of his.
"Do you know what happens when you assume something?"
...I can see Joe Rodriguez writing "Assume" on a chalkboard in front of our group of DuPont technicians-in-training like it was yesterday, rather than thirty years ago.
Without waiting for us to answer, he draws two slashes, dividing up the word.
"You make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'."
He was warning us about "assuming" versus "checking the facts" pertaining to running the plant, but his words sunk in and have echoed as a warning bell for me ever since.
But Tom and I didn't heed Joe's warning when it came to our land. We knew the property line ran through the pond; we just assumed anyone who bought that property would keep it the way it was. Never, ever would it have occurred to us that someone would build a huge berm along that property line.
So we made asses of ourselves. (I refuse to take the blame for our neighbor.)
Not that we could have done anything about it, anyway - we couldn't afford to buy the property when it came up for sale. Nevertheless, if we had opened up our minds to the possibility of someone drastically manipulating their section of the Hollow, it wouldn't have been such a blow when it happened.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
These words were part of the second reading in Mass yesterday, and they hit me hard. They're still being shouted out in my brain. Echoing. Pounding.
For you were called for freedom, brother and sisters.
But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh;
rather, serve one another through love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you go on biting and devouring one another,
beware that you are not consumed by one another.
Whoa! That hit way too close to home. Just a coincidence, I'm sure...
But then (would you believe it?) on NBC's Dateline last night, there was the tragic story of neighbors in California arguing over property lines, property values and differences of opinion on property 'beauty' and usage. After years of bickering, hard feelings and legal battles, all it took was a boulder placed on the property line, literally, to trigger the last fatal confrontation; one neighbor shot and killed the other two.
So senseless. So tragic. So ridiculous! Killing someone over a piece of land?
And such a mirror to our frustrations over the dam... a warning to us of how pebbles can grow into boulders if we let them, boulders that settle in your heart, weigh down your spirit, block reason and light and true vision.
It makes me wonder what the future holds for us. In essence, we've had a boulder placed on our property line. I don't want to leave; I also don't want us to live with resentment or anger toward our neighbor, but having been lied to and treated without respect, it's going to be a challenge to break the figurative boulder apart, knowing the real one - the dam - isn't going anywhere.
Except I just finished reading a book, From Gravel to Glory by Gina Calvert, that demonstrates how God works in our lives using stones and boulders such as this one in ours.
Not that I believe it was part of God's plan for our neighbor to do what he did, but what I do know is we can't let it weigh our spirits down, but rather use it to build them up somehow. Somehow, we've got to find a way to love our neighbor. Or at least find a way to let go of the hurt and frustration.
Definitely a challenge. But I'm up for it, especially after seeing how a neighbor's dispute can turn so senselessly tragic.
Besides, with God, all things are possible. I do believe that.
And by the way, I caught a glimpse of the herons this morning.