Who are you missing that’s right outside your window? One lonely widow had lived across the street from us for years, but for too long I was too busy to let her in.
To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes….Say a prayer tonight
~Third Day, “Cry Out To Jesus”
It was a few weeks before Christmas. She had put a “For Sale” sign on her front window. And, oh, how we’d love to rent a 3-bedroom house like hers. We call on every one that goes up for rent in the neighborhood. But they are always much too far outside of our budget.
But when hers went up for sale, I saw a glimmer of hope. She had told me before she thought that rental rates were much too high these days. Our next-door neighbor suggested that if she couldn’t sell her house that she offer to rent it to us.
Oh, our 2-bedroom is sufficient. But to have a 3-bedroom, well, it would just be nice.
I told my husband our “dream” rental home may very well be within our reach, and I left the girls with him and bounded on over to her house.
She was raking the leaves. That was the first twinge of the Spirit’s conviction right there. She–75ish, wrinkled, hunched over and I dare say much more feeble than I in even my postpartum state. She was raking the leaves that I had noticed earlier that week and thought: “Oh, well, the yard men will come rake them for her.”
She wiped her brow with an old rag and smiled as I walked up.
“So I see your house is on the market, Mrs. Doris?”
“Yes, yes it is,” she said. “But I think I may just stay.”
“Oh really?” And my heart sunk a bit. Boy, how we’d love that house.
“Yeah, I don’t really want to leave. I like the neighborhood. It just gets mighty lonely.”
Ouch. I’m going to need a bandage for these stings soon. OK, Lord, I’m listening.
And she invited me in and showed me around. I had been inside once before (yes, just once) when I had delivered banana bread one Christmas morning.
The house was beautiful–but quiet.
She took me to her bedroom, told me to take a seat, and directed me to a 16×20 hung on the wall. It was her Ray.
And, with tears in her eyes, she begins to tell me of their marriage, their life, his death. “You can get over anything in life–“she says. “Well, most things. But I’ll never get over Ray.”
And I listen and nod my head and tell her how sorry I am. And realize: This lady is lonely. So lonely. And I’m home most of the time just a few feet away.
She tells me how strong she is. “That little girl of yours? You know she yells from the window when you tell her to stay in her room and take a nap.”
“Yeah, I know,” I laugh.
“Well, she’s just like me. Strong. Not afraid of anyone.”
Image by Horia Varlan
And I look in her eyes–strong, fierce eyes. But their light is faded, weathered. And those weathered eyes are framed by a weathered face, stroked by weathered hands…and speak of a weathered heart.
She’s just lonely. Oh, so lonely.
And how often have I pulled into my parking space with a carload of groceries and babies and just rushed in before the milked spoiled or the babe started screaming for the milk my body told me she was needing.
She’s just lonely. And the Lord tells us to care for the orphans and the widows and my thoughts are consumed with the widow half a world away when there sits one just as lonely just beyond my doorstep.
I see her out my window every morning.
Her sad eyes smile.
And she waves and talks a mile a minute and laughs at how my little girl–so strong and spirited–is much like her younger self.
And these thoughts invade my head: You can give to the poor and sponsor a widow…but if you have not love for your neighbor….you are nothing….
And I tell myself: This year will be different. Oh Lord, help me to reach her. Help me to forget the messy house and chaos of littles and just invite her in!