In Brenda's House

I live on a dead-end street. Our block is a little village. Most of the families have known each other for over twenty years. We take vacations together. We have our own celebrations and rituals. When one of the kids graduates from high school or college, all the neighbors go to the graduation. We’ll be heading down to Corvallis in June when Colleen graduates from Oregon State. It’s Jessica’s turn next year. She’s in San Diego, which gives an added incentive.

Easter Sunday breakfast is one of our celebrations. All the neighbors gather at Brenda’s house. We’ve constantly told her that it’s not fair for her to host it year after year, but she won’t have it any other way. Brenda is in charge of food service at one of our local hospitals. She’s used to cooking and preparing food for large numbers of people. Breakfast for the neighbors is easy.

When I was in Jerusalem last month, my friend Sharon took me souvenir shopping. I told her I wanted things that were distinctive, not the usual tourist junk that Jerusalem has been peddling for two thousand years. Sharon knew exactly where to go. She took me to a tile shop in the Armenian Quarter. The store was filled with beautiful tiles and ceramics of all sizes, decorated with traditional designs that dated back centuries. Tiles like this must have decorated the palaces of the caliphs. Naturally, I had to get some. The tiles turned out to be the perfect gift. Everyone loved them. I emailed Sharon that I should have gotten more. She told me I’ll just have to come back.

I gave Brenda one of the tiles. This design was one of my favorites. It pictured a gazelle against a background of flowers. On Easter morning, there it was on the table in front of me.

“Hey, Brenda!” I said, “here’s the tile I brought back from Jerusalem.”

“I know,” she said. “I love it.” Resting on the tile was a beautifully shaped clay bowl. Brenda’s cousin had brought it back from Lebanon. Brenda’s mom’s family is Lebanese.

Brenda announced to all the neighbors, “The bowl’s from Lebanon, the tile’s from Israel, but in my house everybody gets along.”

In Brenda’s house everybody does get along. No feuding or squabbling allowed. Brenda feeds the whole neighborhood.

Why can’t the whole world be like Brenda’s house?

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