A snapshot by Shahrokh Afshar

 

It’s one of those pleasant June evenings in Los Angeles . Many of our neighbors are out for a walk and I’m playing with Cocoa on the front lawn. She loves to fetch her red ball. As I look up, I see Jasmine approaching me.

“ Cocoa ,” she screams. I don’t think she remembers my name, but Cocoa she remembers. It must be Cocoa ’s color that does it, or maybe her loving demeanor.

“Where’s Victor?” referring to her husband, I ask.

“Didn’t I tell you?”

“No!”

“Victor was diagnosed with, how do you say? The blood cancer.”

“You mean leukemia?”

“Yes, that’s it. He’s very weak and can’t walk with me.”

“Will you let me pray for him?” I ask as I reach over, grab her hands and begin to pray.

Jasmine walks away with tears in her eyes thanking me. A few minutes later Kevin pulls up. He’s my neighbor around the block.

“How are you, brother?” He’s been calling me that ever since I got to know him.

“Hey, have you lost any of Vicky’s dogs lately?” I teasingly ask him.

A few weeks earlier as I was walking Cocoa in the hills across the street from our house, Kevin approached me with tears in his eyes.

“Brother, I need your help?”

“What’s up?”

“As you know, my wife, Vicky trains dogs. Well, a few minutes ago, one of them ran away from our house.” I’ve been walking up and down the block, but can’t find him.

Without asking a word, I put my hand on his shoulder and begin to pray for the dog to come back. That night my neighbor, Jeff, on the end of the block finds the dog.

As Kevin drives away, I suddenly realized: I may not have a church building, but I’m my block’s official pastor.

PS: If you move out of your neighborhood tonight, will your neighbors miss you tomorrow? Mine will…

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