Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.8
January 1980

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

It all began as a necessity — no drapes to cover a kitchen window in our Florida apartment. The window opened upon the main walk on the ground floor of our complex; so we brewed coffee, made sandwiches, and washed dishes on a public stage. People went by in great number, looked in, and seemed embarrassed when we waved or spoke to them.

By the second day we had covered the kitchen window, but when we sat down at our dining table (beside another window) we felt shut in. So, we opened those drapes to enjoy the view — and neighbors we began to recognize. (Texans like to "howdy!" and wave at passing "Podnuhs!") It was hard to keep a straight face as we saw the results of our unorthodoxy.

Some tried hard to ignore our brazen effrontery. Accustomed to apartment dwellers who fought for privacy, they seemed wary, almost insulted, by neighbors who extended an open hand. Some would sneak a little look, then turn hurriedly away when they realized we were also looking. Some gave a little nod of recognition — a few trips later, a smile and a wave. 'We are well aware of the need for privacy; and the fact that close living quarters impose certain rules and respect for your neighbor's territory. There were times when we drew our drapes. But that open window became our "house by the side of the road." With no introduction other than our window waving, one man came asking my help with a wiring problem. We became friends, had a meal together, and he attended church with us.

It was wonderful to notice progress, from curt nod, to smile, to a wave, and finally to brief conversations about weather, their dog, or my work of study and grading papers. We did not invade their private lives nor they ours. In many ways we trod widely different paths, but the open window taught us something about our fellows. We need one-another, whether we like to recognize it or not. Maybe I opened that window because I needed out, as much or more than others needed in. Who is left to criticize that?

The leaven of righteousness was not meant to be kept in a baking powder can. Somehow we must open our window to the world, and say "Howdy!"