It has been months now since our neighbor's construction project destroyed the beauty and tranquillity of our Buddha garden. It felt like an invasion. The back wall of the pond was torn apart, the waterproofing membrane left dangling, and the pool of water left stagnating at the bottom had become a breeding ground for mosquitos. The plants had been trodden down and were coated with construction dust. The quiet we had so treasured--almost without knowing it--had been disrupted by the constant noise of construction machinery and the workers' salsa music.
For months, we have been suffering from this psychic and emotional wound, getting by on repeated promises that it would be restored "by the end of the week," "before you get back," "in the next couple of days"... Those promises were repeatedly broken, until we finally took matters into our own hands and brought in our own trusted handyman to stabilize the wooden fence between our properties, reconstruct the back wall of the fish pond, and get the plumbing and the lights back into functioning order. (The final promise from our neighbors, to reimburse us for "a full day's work," was broken too. Our anger and disappointment were finally resolved in the best Buddhist response that we could muster. See previous entry in The Buddha Diaries.")
We spent Saturday cleaning out the rock garden above the pool and choosing plants to replace and supplement those that were salvable. Sunday, we invested in some new pots and garden decorations. The Buddha himself was given a new place of honor, perched on the corner of the pond...
We are still not completely done, of course. This is still a work in progress. But we realize, now that the garden is restored to its previous beauty and tranquillity, how much our lives had been affected by its state of disarray. We're happy to have it back, better even than before.
But we (I!) still have work to do on the anger. Despite my efforts to be Buddhist--and despite that olive branch--I can't help but feel that we have been collateral damage to our neighbors' project. To be Buddhist does not mean to be a doormat, but the peace we have made leaves me feeling that we have allowed them to mistreat us with impunity. Still, our peace of mind is surely more important than to nurse a grudge--one that can only do more harm to ourselves than those against whom we hold it. So I send metta over the fence as I mediate in our new Buddha garden in the morning, wishing them goodwill and happiness in their lives.