I discovered the true meaning of neighbourliness  very early this morning.  I was home alone last night with the dogs keeping a watchful eye on me.

I woke to a lot of barking at around 6.40am and wondered what was up. The chorus was emanating from son Harry’s dogs and it seemed a bit strange that Puppy Stan who was sleeping away from them wasn’t joining in the cacophony. I scrunched my ears and heard an unusual thudding sound from his quarters. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard before so I decided I’d better go and see what kind of mischief he was engaging in.

What I found was the stuff of nightmares.  My precious pup had somehow got entangled in a very heavy lined curtain that pulls across our back door. The curtain was tightly twisted round his little neck and he was barely able to breathe, let alone bark.

At first I thought it was a simple matter of getting his collar off and that he would be able to run free but it was when I unclipped the collar that I realised the full extent of how much the curtain was constricting him.

After a quick try at cutting through the material with a fairly ordinary scissors and then a sharp knife, I knew we were in dire trouble. His mahogany eyes were pleading with me to act quickly but I couldn’t see how to release him without some sort of very sharp cutting implement and I was terrified to leave him in case he tried to follow me and made the tightness even worse than it was.

A zillion thoughts flashed into my mind ~ everything from calling the fire service with their cutting equipment to trying to pull the curtain down and somehow untwist it ….. Before I knew it I was racing across the road to neighbours who I know to be interested in DIY and the like so would be likely to have cutting tools.

I banged on the door and kept my finger on the bell until the woman of the house peered sleepily out the upstairs window to see what all the commotion was about. I gave her a shorthand account of what was wrong and within a minute or so she came running over to our house in her pyjamas carrying a very strong scissors.

Stan was frothing at the mouth by this point and between us we managed to get the scissors between his coat and the wadge of material. My neighbour steadied her hand and cut down hard. The blade bore through the taut curtain that had once been my pride and joy and Stan took a gasp and went to the Good Samaritan and put his head on her knee in a gesture of relieved thanks.

We opened the back door and Stan ran out drinking in the fresh air and then gulps of water from the dish on the steps.

My neighbour and I sat together on the steps in the early sun and she comforted me like a mother soothing a shocked child.

All day, I’ve been counting my blessings that I live in a community in which neighbours look out for each other. ( I know that this isn’t necessarily the norm, especially in bigger towns and cities in Ireland and elsewhere.) We don’t live in each other’s pockets but when the chips are down, it is beyond reassuring to know that there are caring hearts close by.

The Warmth of Neighbours

When the World Feels All Upside Down …

Today is a day when it feels like the world is caught in a terrible storm of unrest, fear and nightmarish violence.

Maybe it’s not any worse than usual but somehow the dreadful shooting on the beach in Tunisia yesterday seems to underline the fragility of life at the end of a week  which has seen Irish hearts blown open with grief after the tragic deaths of the young students in Berkeley, California.

When I was walking the few hundred yards up to our local shop early this morning, it was so reassuring to meet friendly faces. Everyone had a smile and a warm ‘Good morning.‘ No one was talking about the dark side of life but it felt like each person was reaching just that little bit more to touch the very essence of humanity.

Eyes meeting eyes, hello in harmony, taking the time to stop and have a little chat … these are the tiny things that matter, that matter hugely in restoring faith in humanity.

Yes, there are pathways to peace …..