You know that whole love your neighbor thing?
There’s all kinds of memes and things written out there pointing out that yeah, he meant what he said. That he meant it about all of our neighbors, not just the ones who are the same color or nationality or believe the same things or share the same values or read the same books or have the same favorite character on TV as we do.
And so this occurred to me as one of our neighbors drove by while I was out walking a few days ago. I automatically threw my hand up to wave, and then realized it was THAT neighbor. The one who never waves. Who never acknowledges anyone’s presence when he’s out mowing. The one who simply ignores all of the rest of us.
And then I heard those words echoing in my heart again–because that’s where they are now, I know them by heart–“Love thy neighbor.”
Yes. Even him.
The funny thing is that the struggle is real. It’s easy for me to stand to the side and nod and say, “Oh yes. ALL the neighbors. ALL the people. Yes. We should LOVE THEM,” and then stand around for hours and meet and plan and discuss how to do just that. But when it comes to my own little corner of the cosmic neighborhood, I find it a little harder. Yes, all those who are different from me. Absolutely. The ones who are this or that? Sure. LOVE. THEM. But point at the neighbor who never waves back–ummmm, for real?
Yes. For real.
So there’s another neighbor of ours. We have an interesting relationship. We’ve not always seen eye to eye. I am sure I make him as crazy as he makes me sometimes. And it’s nothing big–all little things. And yet. Just the other day, I was thinking that yeah, though we do exasperate each other from time to time, I was sure if I needed help, he’d be there.
I was about to be proved right.
Yesterday evening my neighbor loved us.
He saw something that needed doing, and without blinking, he did it. For us. Without being asked, without asking for recognition or any remuneration, he just did it.
And when I saw, I nearly cried.
Because that’s just one of the many wonderful things that love does–sees something someone needs and takes care of it.
Love thy neighbor. Every last one of them.
It makes me smile at how clever the One running things is–teaching me to love my neighbor through the one that can make me the craziest. Sounds about right though. Always using the unexpected to teach the most important things…..
for now, I’ll keep working at loving all my neighbors. The ones in our world and the ones down the street. It may not always be easy or even fun, but all means all.
Tonight I’m thankful for good neighbors, especially the one who had every reason to turn a blind eye to our need but didn’t. I’m grateful to the ones who first taught me the words “love thy neighbor” and showed me what that looked like. Most of all, I’m thankful for new chances, each and every day, to be a good neighbor to someone else.
Love to all. And your neighbors too.