One of my favorite things about being Catholic is that I have never been asked, as an action of faith, to go door-to-door throughout my neighborhood for any reason whatsoever. Don't get me wrong -- it's not that I am reluctant to talk with people about matters of faith (quite the opposite, in fact). It's just that, while I am rather outgoing in many circumstances, when I'm home I tend to go into hermit mode. I mean, not full-blown hermitage, but I'd definitely say that home time is when the more introverted part of me kicks in and just wants to be minding my own quiet, peaceful business and thinking my own lovely thoughts. When door-to-door folks of faith come proselytizing, I loathe it and sometime avoid answering the door altogether, but not because I don't want to talk about faith... it's because I'm at home! So needless to say, I don't really know any of my neighbors.
It's a terrible commentary on my faith life, really, to admit that I don't know a single one of the people in my immediate neighborhood very well after living here for a few years. I mean, I know the Bible mentions loving your neighbor on a number of occasions, and I'm pretty sure this concept is more demanding than the little wave I give when I see that one neighbor taking out their garbage can and the way that I generally avoid contact with the rest of them. I was recently thinking that I should do better in this regard, but as usual, made no concrete plans to do so.
The weather was so nice today that I suggested to my girls that we take a walk in our neighborhood. And then my girls asked me to let them go door-to-door to all the neighbors on our block to give out Valentine's cards while we were at it.
Everything inside me rebelled, but I knew I had to let them do it, at the risk of my own personal inconvenience and very probable embarrassment. I never could have guessed that the next hour would change my life. Here are a few highlights:
House 1: a kind older lady, presumably the wife of the man to whom I occasionally wave over garbage can transport. She was really happy to receive the girls' Junie B. Jones paper Valentines and to finally meet us, and sincerely thanked us several times for coming by, even though I was still kind of embarrassed and trying to get off her porch in pretty short order.
House 2: some kids peeking through the window, followed by their dad opening the door holding a bottle of Windex and, clearly far more embarrassed than I had ever been, apologizing to us in case we had overheard whatever it was that he had yelled at one of the misbehaving children. We handed over the Valentine's, I told the kids to be good for their dad, and a little while later a couple of the kids came out to their yard to yell a thank you to my girls for the cards.
House 3: a mom and her 3 children who we actually had met before when we were having a yard sale quite a while ago, but who we haven't seen much since because I am a procrastinating hermit (the worst kind). The mother had shared that they are Catholics from Israel who have been wanting to have their children prepared for the sacraments, and I had been meaning to follow up. They were so excited to see us again, and I honestly have seen few children as happy as those 3 were when my girls gave them their Valentines.
House 4: the young guy in his shorts and tank top, who looked groggy and possibly hung over, but couldn't stop smiling when he heard why we were there.
House 5: the guy who was cleaning the house after all of their furniture had already been moved out, and who apologized that they were leaving just when we came over to say hello. (Little did he know that we're about two years late, and not the regular welcome wagon.) He gave a big thanks, and we wished him well on his family's move.
House 6: the friendly but kind of strange guy across the street who I remember also coming over to our yard sale, but he seemed to have no recollection of who we were. He seemed happy enough about the girls' Valentines, although it kind of seemed like he thought I might be hitting on him. Hopefully, my facial expression accompanied by my nasty sweats and greasy pony tail made it clear that I was not, and we continued on as he waved goodbye.
House 7: the elderly Asian lady who, when I told her we were neighbors and the girls just wanted to give her Valentine's cards, tried to explain that she didn't speak much English. I tried to explain, through simple words and gestures, that the cards were for her. She looked happy and asked how much. I said, "No money; free, for you!" Her expression changed from confusion to gratitude, and I saw her eyes get teary as she gave an emotional thank you. As we walked down her driveway I turned back to see if my younger daughter needed help with her scooter, and saw the woman still standing there, smiling and watching us. A while later, I saw her on her driveway with a younger man (maybe her son) pointing down the street and looking our way.
You guys. My girls were just giving out these little paper Valentine's:
And everyone we saw was so happy.
It was really cool.
I'm not going to lie to myself or any of you and say that we're going to make this a regular event (because who wants Valentine's in March, anyway), but I definitely learned some great lessons from today, the most important of which can't really be put into words.
But I think my favorite lesson is that, when you have children who you school in the faith, they're bound to school you soon enough and you better hop on board for the ride.