By Chris Murek
I first met Mrs. Mercy Rivera when, as a younger man, I moved to Tucson from Colorado. It was about this time of the year, when it's still quite cold in the Rockies, but warm and pleasant in Arizona, the Sunshine State.
It was 1977 and I remember it well, because my friend and I could hang out in a park early in in the morning and watch the birds bathe in the grassy water puddles. What a time we had then. It reminds me of youth, and of poems like “I Hear America Singing,” or “Leaves of Grass.” Yes, to me it seemed like my troubles were all behind me, and it was only going to get better.
I found a place to stay in a rooming house that Mrs. Rivera’s family owned, named nothing more and nothing less than The Kentucky Inn on University Blvd. As of today, the building is still there. But to make a long story short and a short story long… without being boring (or, as the Mexicans say, enfadoso)… let me cut to the chase, as the expression goes: So several years go by, and some of the troubles I was fleeing from in Colorado catch up with me. And we now have new troubles, the Arizona variety, if you catch my drift, my friends… but, God!
In 1982 I heard the clarion call of the Gospel and the Prince of Peace (Shalom), and by His mighty grace, and by His wonderful mercy, when invited to follow Him home, I did so with a baby step that has made all the difference in my life. You see, a Christian is nothing more and nothing less than a follower of the historical and the living Jesus, the Messiah!
So now, you say, where does your neighbor Mercy fit in?
Well, I got married to a wonderful young woman named Debbie, who came from a family of long-time missionaries to Mexico. And when Debbie and I were finally able to buy our first house on the south side – lo and behold, when all the real estate papers were signed, and we were finally moving in – who is it that comes to greet us with a house warming gift? You guessed it: Mrs. Mercy Rivera.
And so it has been for almost thirty years. Mercy is now up there in years, but she always remembers Christmas cards, and remembers every holiday with a small treat for our family, and even for our three parrots.
So I leave you with this thought: Mercy is always a good neighbor, and God is always good.
May He richly bless you and yours.