There’s a house on the corner of our block that always has a calico cat sitting on the porch. I first noticed it one fateful night when I had sprinted barefoot out of our door after my housemate, Luke, who was taking our recently captured house mouse to be released into the wild. I had my reservations about if he would choose a safe location (I had named him after all.). We were trying to decide if Archy would be safe if we put him back in a hole we’d seen other mice in, when Katlyn spotted the cat’s shining eyes. Debate over. We took Archy up a few streets to a “field” we cross as a short cut to the bus. My friend “Stormy” the cat lives there and follows me every morning, but we can hope that Archy got away. He was a little guy.
Anyway, it was with this backstory that I had cats on the brain as I was passing the house on my way home this afternoon. And it was with a strong desire to meet the cat’s owner to get permission to pet it that I asked a woman the next house down if she knew who lived there. What started as a quick inquiry, developed into a sharing of the financial frustrations of owning pets with fleas (a frustration I know all too well.) and moved into an invitation for me to come inside and meet her dogs. While inside and seemingly out of nowhere, she asked me staring intently at my shoes, “So are the holes just a style thing?” “Um, no.” I was kind of awkwardly laughing at this point and explained that I was just too cheap to buy new shoes and that I was trying to make the old ones last. “Just wait a sec.” At this point, she disappeared into a back room and came back with some of the coolest sneakers I had ever seen, made even more incredible by the inexplicable love I received from this neighbor I didn’t even know. “They’re my old ones. Maybe you can walk my dogs for me sometime.” Just like that a friendship is born and another stereotype is spit in the face in the name of firsthand experience.
Our passions are not random, the places we see God are not without reason, and it is my belief that it is through the love our neighbors that we can sometimes give but more often than not receive the love of God in real and tangible ways. It isn’t uncommon to hear Hunting Park spoken about as a place to come to serve. It’s privilege to reflect on my time here and be able to list the hundreds of ways I have and still do receive from my friends and people who aren’t yet my friends in this community and on days like today I am proud to say that this is a place I am honored to be.
Pic credit: Erin Riley
Erin Riley is a current Mission Year Philadelphia Alumni Leader. Originally from Owosso, MI, you can learn more by visiting her donation page.