November 5, 2020

If you are a fantasy nerd, you joke with your brother about setting sail for the Undying Lands and leaving the people of Middle Earth to their fate. You say it because there is nothing left to say. But in the absence of an elf-driven ship, you head out on a run. Most of the campaign signs have been removed from people’s lawns, and the ones that remain have begun to tilt sideways in ground softened by these last days of rain. Through windows, you catch glimpses of televisions turned to experts pronouncing prophecies, as only experts can. Even so, November is still your favorite month, every tree decaying in its own special way. No matter how many years you live through the seasons, your eyes never stop hungering for the riot of colors. Leaves clog the streets, and geese call from on high, unperturbed by the clamor of that noisiest of species who thinks we have it all figured out. Down another street, you see the elderly man who once let you take shelter in his garage during a downpour, and ever since, he greets you by name. He’s running his lawnmower over mounds of leaves, three houses away from where he lives. He looks up as you run past and waves, his face wide with a grin. Love your neighbor as yourself, you think. It shouldn’t be so hard. But like everything we ought to have the strength and decency to do, it is one of the hardest things of all. Who is my neighbor? an expert asked Jesus, and He told a scathing story of a man wounded in the road, ignored by the ones who ought to have known better and cared for by a person from the enemy camp. Go and do likewise, Jesus said, always getting to the meaty middle of things. Down another street, you pass a young mother with a stroller. Good morning, you say to her, and she greets you back. Middle-aged men wearing air pods, teenage girls walking dogs, so much of our species out in the road, just trying to take it all in. You smile, say good morning to everyone you pass, pausing as each set of eyes meets your own. All of us are so utterly powerless, you think, and yet, we are powerful enough.

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