Yesterday evening, I decided I needed to get outside. It was cooling off, and there was a nice breeze, and I had had enough of sitting around in the house. So, I decided to "walk the grounds" and check out the many and various flower gardens that the women of the church have lovingly planted and care for. They've increased their borders into my yard, too, but seeing as how most of my areas set aside for flower beds were overgrown with weeds when the church ladies annexed them I decided not to complain.
As I was aimlessly wandering, enjoying the petunias and rose bushes and various other flowers that I don't know, a car drove by and I heard shouting as it passed. I figured it was just one of those "crazy kids" and their loud stereos, but after the car had passed, the shouting hung around. Curiousity got the best of me and I wandered towards the front lawn to get a better look. If you go down the church driveway and cross the street, you can go right into the driveway of a little gray house. The shouting was coming from over there.
There was a group of about 5 or 6 people that I could see who were milling about on the porch/front yard. Then I witnessed the source of the shouting. A shirtless man stormed into the frontyard and stopped. He turned towards the gray house and threw something, and I heard what sounded like a bottle or cup shatter. Then he stormed back around and into the house. From the distance of my vantage point (the church and parsonage are about a 150 feet from the street, or so... that's a crazy, random guesstimate) I could now tell that the people outside, who were apparently all male, were milling about nervously, not sure what to do. Shirtless man came storming back out of the house, although he seemed to have some sort of shirt or coat on at this point. He walked over and got into the driver's seat of a car, at which point a woman came out of the house and ran down the steps to the car. She opened the driver's door and knelt down. I couldn't see what was happening, but then I heard her yelling and the guys in the front yard ran over to the car. Then previously shirtless man got out of the car and stormed back into the house.
I was this close - to calling the police. I was unsure if I was misreading the situation, and I didn't want to get the cops involved in a situation that was unnecessary for them to be involved in, but I thought better safe than sorry. As I was going over whether or not to call the police, I saw one of the guys come walking towards the street. Thinking that they had witnessed me peeking over the bush and spying on them (although, now that I think of it, they were probably too engrossed in what was occurring on their side of the street to notice the top half of a head peeking over a bush) I turned and started walking back to my house. But the young man, who seemed to be in his teens, started pacing nervously on the side of the road, and wringing his hands.
That's it, I thought, people don't act like that for no reason. I need to call the police. Just then, the teenager across the street raised his hands and began waving, and I saw a police car slow down and pull into the driveway. A couple seconds later, a second one pulled in behind it. At this point the action seemed to move inside the house, but I had already told myself that the police were there, and it was no longer my business. When I was trying to assess whether I needed to call the police, it was ok for me to watch. But now that things were under control, I needed to give these people some privacy.
This experience has made me realize a major shift in my personality. Not too long ago, watching a scene like this would have gotten me excited. I would have thought something like, "Oh cool! This is like an episode of Cops! And I'm there IN PERSON!" I would have thought it was neat to see the previously shirtless man thrown to the ground and handcuffed. I would have been watching the scene for the excitement that it would have provided me.
But this time, I wasn't excited, but worried about the people. Especially the teenage boy who was pacing nervously on the side of the road. I thought that there was something unhealthy going on across the street, and I wanted to make sure everything was alright. I was watching the scene, not for the excitement, but to see if there was something I could do to help, such as call the police.
I really had never taken notice of that little gray house across the street. Now, whenever I walk back and forth between the church and parsonage, I glance over and wonder how things went. I wonder if the people are alright and if there was a good ending to the excitement. I worry about that teenage boy, and if that is the sort of environment that he's exposed to on a regular basis - chaotic and wild and potentially unsafe. So, I think tonight, and more often, I'll say a prayer for the people in that house. I'll pray for peace and hope and stability, and that God keep an eye on them, especially that teenage boy, and make sure that they are safe and healthy. And if you wanted to pray for them, too, that would be great.
In other news, everytime I drive downtown I have to pass this other house that's close to one of the main intersections in town. It's not the nicest house, but it's not too shabby. But everytime I drive by, there is a large group of people milling about on the porch. They're usually sitting around and chatting, and the kids are running and playing in the yard. They are definitely not members of the upper crust, and if I had to guess I would say that most of them know what it means to have to work hard to make ends meet. But it always seems they are enjoying themselves and the company of their friends and/or family. This evening as I was driving by, one of the men was sitting out on the side of the porch with a large yellowish snake draped over his shoulders. They just seem to be an interesting bunch. Sometime I think it would be fun to walk down there and just say hello, and tell them that whenever I drive by that it looks like they're having a good time. Who knows, they might say, "Well, why don't you hang out for a while?" or, "Yep. Wanna beer?" or they might look at me like I'm crazy and tell me to get off their property... Who knows? But it would be interesting to see what would happen.
Although it's unlikely that I'll ever muster up the courage to do anything like that. So I'll probably just continue to drive by and see them and continue to wonder.