In the days since Hurricane Delta blew through, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside, chatting with passing neighbors as we all wonder when our power will be restored. A large tree went down, completely breaking the powerlines, so this is a question without a quick answer, making the outdoor visits a highlight of our days. As a result, we now know the first names of people we have lived near for years, but only waved to as we drove past to get to work, the grocery store, the next appointment, our “life.” The storm has reminded us of “real life,” where we are surrounded by people who happily cleaned the yard of the elderly woman down the street, inquired about our welfare the morning after the storm, brought limb cutters and walked the streets assisting anyone needing help with sizable limbs, and who are quietly safeguarding some older folks who are gathering bids on tree removal. To experience all this and more has truly been a thing of beauty and has strongly reminded all of us of what is most important: each other.
Rabbi Harold Kushner, best known for his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” writes this wonderful observation about neighbors: The happiest people I know don’t even think about being happy. They just think about being good neighbors, good people. And then happiness sort of sneaks in the back window while they are busy doing good.
So, it seems good neighbors look something like this: they have come to see everyone as family. Wherever they find themselves, they are genuinely concerned with others. If there is a need, they bring their best to assisting with it. Kindness and compassion are their rule of life, and hope and encouragement are gifts you receive in their presence. May we each go forth and do likewise! And wouldn’t you know it, happiness will sneak in the back window…
A Good Neighbor
It is no use walking anywhere to preach
unless our walking is our preaching.
St Francis of Assisi
Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Your work is to discover your world
and then with all your heart give yourself to it.
Start where you are. Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess,
the most precious, valuable gift
you can ever hope to offer any human being
is this one, simple, true thing:
YOU – your presence, simply showing up.
It is in the shelter of each other that people live.
The place God calls you to
is the place where your deep gladness
and the world’s deep hunger meet.
I will follow the upward road today;
I will keep my face to the light.
I will think high thoughts as I go my way;
I will do what I know is right.
I will look for the flowers by the side of the road;
I will laugh and love and be strong.
I will endeavor to lighten another’s load
this day as I travel along.
Mary S. Edgar - modified
So in everything,
do to others as you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Each of you should use whatever gifts
you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
I Peter 4:10
And the King will reply,
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did
for one of the least of these,
you did it for me.”