As I nervously peered around the hallway corner, I saw my neighbor looking into my home. I knew what I was in for. I had been warned by other neighbors, especially the one who finally decided to move because of the harrassment she'd endured. Cookies don't work, and neither do smiles or kind words I'd been told.
He told me to open my door. Well, no, I do not make a habit of opening my door up to people who look to be in a fit of rage. No, opening the door was not an option. So we had a short conversation through the window. Apparently, the dog had gotten to the side of the house and was barking at him, and he was infuriated and came to tell us. I apologized and he stormed away.
The situation ended badly, very badly.
When Patrick came home to see me crying and all shaken up, he marched over to my neighbor's house and told him in no uncertain terms that he was never to scare me or the kids again or to trespass on our property. "You've crossed the line, now," he told him. He made it clear that if he did it again, he was starting some trouble. His wife assured Patrick they'd be coming over every time she barked from now on.
Police were called. Result: neither of us can trespass on each other's property.
Now I feel deflated. For almost a year now, we have been trying to "love our neighbor" and resolve this situation. Our past peacemaking attempts have not worked. We have prayed. We have Sophie using a bark collar and bring her in whenever she starts barking. (Poor thing, though, there are at least 3 other dogs in the vicinity that have a similar bark. I think she's the scapegoat or scapedog in this case.) We have talked to 17 different neighbors to make sure she hasn't been bothering them at all.
Last night we prayed. We prayed that these neighbors would not just know about God, but would come to know Jesus himself. We prayed that He would break the chains of anger that hold them in a prison. We prayed that He would break down their tough bully facade and replace it with vulnerability and love. If we can't sew seeds of peace in the physical realm, we'll keep sewing them in a spiritual one. We will continue to try and love them, but sadly, it will have to be from a distance. At least for the time being.