My parents have a stone fruit neighbor. His name is Roger, his hair is white, and he owns orchards and orchards and gardens and gardens and farms.
You should know my dad is the bishop of our ward, which really means that he is a kind of father to the people who live in a little segment of our mountain suburb. It really means that he's gone a lot while he's taking care of people, that my mom is alone at nights sometimes, that the phone rings mainly for him, that he worries for the people who are wondering about God. He worries for the people who are wondering about their wives and husbands, who are wondering about money for heat this winter, who are wondering about the business of commandments. He's been worrying and praying about these people for a couple of years, and he's very much in the middle of it all.
When my dad was asked to serve the neighborhood like this, we knew it might be hard, but we didn't know about Roger.
Each Sunday, after a long day of faith and meetings and service, Roger brings a cardboard box to our door. As the sun sets on our holy day, the doorbell will ring and we know that it's Roger with his box. In the fall he brings us crispy golden apples--while I was in college I'd visit home on Sunday nights for dinner, and I'd always leave with a bag of Roger's apples. In the winter he brings us fresh eggs and homemade caramels and nougat. During the summer, he's brought us plums, pears, melons, and peaches. The peaches are always engorged and full and perfectly ripe. They are the juiciest, and we've taken to slicing them and eating them out of little glass bowls because of the sticky neck situation they create when impatiently bitten into.
Each of those nights after the door is closed and the cardboard box is brought into the kitchen, we gather around it and admire the jeweled fruit. We pick through our spoils. We talk about Roger, about how he's just a saint. He's a neighbor--so near to us.
We wish for hearts like the one Roger has--engorged, full, and perfectly ripe.
We wish for more hearts like that.