Parabella

I spent today feeling like a bit-part actor in a ‘Kingdom of Heaven is Like…’ parable.

Most odd – let me explain.

This morning, at a reasonable hour, we met up with another family with young children who we know at church, and did breakfast. Like hotel breakfast, but with soul. I had a croissant, fruit salad and a muffin. The boy had scrambled gegs (?!), smoked salmon and a bacon butty. It was made all the more enjoyable by the constant arrival of other young families, couples and a few singles. All the folk know each other through church and we had a wonderful time just eating together and playing with the children.

We would have stayed for the day of activities planned, but we had already sent invitations to our close neighbours for a neighbourly get-together (tea and cakes) in the afternoon.

We invited 7 houses. These were the replies:

1. Would love to come, but have a horrible cold from travelling up to see family last week and don’t want to give it to Lily (she turned 85 this week and otherwise still going strong).

2. Not sure that we’re going to be up to it – I’m moving up the street this month and have family and others staying.

3. We are going to London for New Year’s and may not get back in time.

4. We were looking forward to coming but have decided to go out for the day as a little family.

5. We are not sure we can come over today after all (she is pregnant).

6. My dad just turned up unexpectedly from Spain and we need to visit all the family with him.

The seventh house, the people who live directly behind us, consists of a couple who were chatty, cheerful and interested in Lily and in telling us about their grandchildren. We talked for hours and had a wonderful time, and they didn’t mind our five-year old tree or our one-year old baby. In fact, Lily took to them very well.

If I were to draw a moral from the story, I would suggest that the reward from one positive reply is worth all the cleaning, tidying, sorting and sacrifice. But I never really saw it from that point of view until today. We hope to see all our other neighbours in due course, but it was well worth sending the invitations for today.

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