Now I’ve lived in my neighborhood for quite some years, and often, as I walk the streets only houses away from my own residence, I walk past the face of a man who day in and day out parks his truck in arriving home. His eyes are accepting and his countenance is kind.
Many times I have passed him, and in all have recognized his consistency of outreached presence. For so many years, I have accepted him as part of the neighborhood, but until recently, and inspired by 365, I’ve decided to reach out a little further in getting to know him. So for the last several weeks I’ve been inviting him to be part of 365.
In all invites, my reserved neighbor has been humbly pleasant, “Not right now, maybe later.”
Every time I see him I wish my signature hello, and basically, it makes no difference to me if my still not known neighbor interviews or not. What is important is that we have at least have grown to respect each other enough to share first names and the unity that brings to a neighborhood.
Sam is his given. And with first names in mind we have managed to stay connected through a series of daily pleasantries. Pleasantries that after weeks of sharing Sam has finally agreed to interview.
So today we meet in Sam’s living room, where I am warmly invited by not only him, but by his wife and his grandmother to partake of a relaxing day’s end conversation.
Sam is a hard-working guy, as seen by the wear on his hands after a long day of breaking concrete at a construction job.
“I work a lot,” Sam tells me.
I work a lot… In some way, it resonates with me as a tremendous understatement. For every day… seven days a week his truck is absent from our neighborhood. Seven days a week I see him returning home close to sunset, and Seven days a week he can be found watering his yard in a last act of work before reclining into his home for rest.
“We all need work, I’m just lucky,” Sam respectfully declares as he opens up regarding his self-purpose.
“We have grandkids. For me… maybe I’ll die in ten years. We need to think about the kids and their futures.
I dream about buying property in Mexico. Maybe save money for retirement. But I want my kids to have something.
I came to this country for one year. Now I’ve been here for 20 and need to look out for my family.”
Sam’s English is broken, but even with our struggling to share our words; we connect on universal common ground.
“We need more communication… or something like that,” Sam wishes for the people of the planet.
To support his point of reason, Sam advises us with a hint regarding a plausible first step, “You have to be a good neighbor.”
“What about all of Los Angeles and beyond our neighborhood?” I ask.
“Oh… Lots of trouble… Lots of people sleeping in the streets.”
“If you had any words to tell to the politicians, what would you tell them?” I second.
“Find more ways to house the homeless, even apartments so they don’t have to live on the streets,” Sam compassionately platforms as he looks those who are struggling greater than he.
“What about the world and the future of it?” I up the reach of our conversation.
“Economically, I don’t know… But looking ahead, in fifteen years we’ll need more food in California and around the world. Things like buying property in Africa for agriculture and in other countries for rice or anything like that. And water, we have water trouble too. All around the world people are needing clean water to drink and food to eat.”
Sam is a hard-working man. A man who works to feed his family, and a man who has hope for a fed world and a housed people.
It’s written, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Not that I am calling Sam meek by any means. I’m saying the extreme opposite. For in his work worn hands a story is told.
Sam is a strong man… a man of honesty, integrity and greatest of all, gratitude for that which he has; and a man of true concern for those less fortunate for himself.
In other words, Sam is an example to us all.