February 14, 2009


I’ve been thinking about community and everything that concept implies. Community is going to be the subject of this fall’s theological seminar, and we’ve already started working on that, but I got a real-life example of someone who just makes community happen this week when Cynthia and I were up in Ft Worth, and we went to visit our Albanian friends, Anesti and Rifi.

Which actually always leaves us exhausted because, even though ‘Nesti and Rifi are a few years older than we are, they are full of energy and constantly on the move and always talking and unbelievably gracious hosts—Would you like something to drink? Would you like something to eat? Please sit over here; this chair is much more comfortable. Would you like to lie down and rest—I can turn down the bed for you?

It has been a couple of years since we had seen our friends, and so they showed us their home—which ‘Nesti had remodeled (he’s a plumber) and Rifi had decorated (she works at Target). ‘Nesti then proceeded to tell us about all his neighbors; he and Rifi have only lived in the house about a year, but ‘Nesti knows everyone on the street, and he’s already done free plumbing for several of them.

This is how he described one of those encounters.
“Ah, this man, he is good man, I think, but he knows nothing about the plumbing, you see, so he ask me if I can look at his bathroom. I look and see right away what is the problem; I go and get my tools and (here there are several swift gestures, a big smile, and then arms raised in the air) all done. This man, he want to pay me money, but I say, No, No, we are neighbors. I love you. And he look at me funny, but I tell him I do it for the God and for him.”
‘Nesti sometimes has trouble with the language, but his inability to speak well often means that he cuts to the heart of the matter. Like saying ‘I love you’ instead of ‘I care about you’ or ‘We’re friends’. Which is what community is finally all about. People loving each other and loving ‘the God’, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
fr. aidan

1 comment:

Carol said...

Nesti and Rifi sound like those rare wonderful people who show us the Light of Christ through their lives and actions.

This post reminds me of a neighbor we once had (who has since moved). I was going through a tough time with my husband in the hospital for 9 months. I worked a 40 hr/week and still visited in the hospital 2 or 3 times a day, often staying for hours. I got home at 11pm every night to face a stack of mail and bills that needed sorting and paying. I got only a few hours sleep a night. I was young and healthy but was hanging on the edge of a cliff.

So, when the bathroom sink stopped up, I just couldn't deal with it. Fortunately we had two bathrooms so I switched to the other one. However, I did mention the clogged plumbing to my neighbor, Floyd.

It was actually a week or so before I discovered it had been fixed. At first I thought it must have "fixed itself" but then I noticed the shiny new pipes under the sink. It had to be Floyd -- he had a key to our house (and we to his) since we often fed each other's pets during vacations. I rang him up to ask how much, at least for the supplies, but he refused all payment.

Many others have shown me unbelievable kindness over the years since. Little saints in disguise. They are rare, but they are there.