The Red Tree

From the Windows of Waverly’s

As the guy behind the counter of a little coffee shop in a quaint Texas town, I get a unique view not only through the big glass windows, but also into the lives of everyday quaint town Texans.

Directly across the street from Waverly’s is a business run by some of the most festive and decorative people I have ever met. At Campbell’s Insurance, Dennis and Janelle tend to a blanket of bluebonnets in the spring which turns into a garden of Eden in the heat of summer. Fall sees the couple staking scarecrows and stacking pumpkins before the cold spells call the Santas and the early darkness needs the Christmas lights.

You may hear of Janelle coordinating with the FFA , Scouts, or community for a Keep Cisco Beautiful project, or see Dennis routinely picking up trash along the sidewalks. Every season of every year I am impressed and thankful for the Campbell’s standards and efforts. This year in particular, the tree that shades the entrance of their business has held a brilliant orange and red hue for weeks. I have always found myself looking out the windows and thinking, “boy, what a special and beautiful town we live in,” but the past few weeks the painted tree has mesmerized me. How picturesque. If only I were Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade.

As I was sweeping just the other day, admiring the view, I had a thought and set the broom aside, opened the door and stepped outside. Across the street, I sought the answer to my thought: what do my neighbors see from their windows?

Oh. We could sure use some more Christmas lights. I should probably clean those grooved leaded windows that have been gathering dust for decades. That temporary painted message on the window sure could be taken off or updated. My plants are dead. There is some paint peeling in a fairly obvious place. I never knocked down that giant wasp nest that formed last summer.


My neighbors probably don’t wish they were Norman Rockwell. Martha Stewart maybe, but I realized that just because the view from my windows was beautiful does not mean everyone’s is (especially embarrassing when it’s the windows facing me!). Okay, I’ll bump up the beautification of our store front on the priority list, but first I want to reflect on the deeper application of this simple realization.

When our spirit is well tended, well watered, and we are obviously proud of the gift of life that God gave us (and the body in which we live), those around us cannot help but soak it in. You know those people, the ones that just being around them makes you feel comfortable and happy. But just because we are around them does not mean we are one. Just because I’m the Campbell’s neighbor does not mean I belong on their postcard.

Tending to our spirit is as important as keeping a storefront clean and appealing. Not just for ourselves, but because it is contagious. Dennis and Janelle’s community mindedness has not only rubbed off on those around them, but have also made others of like mind feel at home.

Can you imagine if you and a few others you are close to invested in the well being of your inner being? Planting seeds of wisdom, kneeling and sowing in prayer? Hanging lights of hope on the darkest of days and celebrating the seasons that are our lives? Who knows, maybe you’ll just make the people around you enjoy being around you as much as I enjoy looking across the street. But perhaps (and it is likely) that as time passes they may put down the broom of their routines, step outside themselves, and not just be impressed by their surroundings, but be inspired.

We are a community, and we are more than the structures that surround us. Although Dennis and Janelle would argue that they are not such a force of cause (especially without mentioning the many others involved), I do know they would agree that a healthy heart can’t help but overflow into the world around it.

IMG_20151127_171325Let us overflow.