Sunday, September 7, 2014
THE ART OF NEIGHBORING
I have to ask you, what kind of neighbor are you? CHRIST gave us two specific clear cut commands in Mark 12:30-31 which are: "Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
In my Church we are being challenged on how we fit into our neighborhoods and what kind of neighbor we are. In my last neighborhood I did know my neighbors names, kids names, what they did for a living and their likes and dislikes. We were in the original houses and that seemed to be a common factor in getting to know one another.
We recently moved to Arizona so I am now the new kid on the block. I will have to get out there myself and just knock on some doors - I guess you could say the automatic garage door with all it's conveniences has really isolated us over time. Most people come home and the garage door goes up and then it goes down, and they are safe inside their four walls.
I used to walk my old neighborhood religiously because of my dog and very often I would say to myself: where is everyone? I will have to say, the same is true of where I reside now. I can see where being a good neighbor will involve some creative measures and some patience. GOD is pushing me out of my comfort zone here for sure.....maybe I could linger a little longer outside than what I normally do.
We have met a couple of neighbors on our street so far: both of them policemen and their families. I feel safe knowing they are there and my plan in the future for showing them my appreciation is to bake some cookies and take them to their door. If they aren't home, I will keep trying. I think that is the key to being a good neighbor: keep trying.
Knowing your neighbors can start with a hand wave for sure and a smile. Keep doing it and if someone is out in their front yard - go say hello. Having a dog is a great way to meet others walking as well - sometimes I remember the dog's name and forget the person's, but sooner rather than later I get a feel for the person's schedule and routine and can predict when I will run into them. I try to be ready with a smile and "Good Morning."
In my first neighborhood in Colorado I met two of my most precious soul sister friends in my life. One I invited up for coffee....I saw her in her backyard with her two daughters and just invited her in and we have been spiritual sisters ever since.
Another neighbor I met at the pool with her two boys.... I made a funny comment about a woman worried about being splashed (it was a pool for heavens sake) and we have been soul sisters too for all these years.
My point of these two stories is that you never know where a hello will lead you. And the fact that we live side by side every day with our neighbors......is that asking too much? Remember CHRIST'S command: to LOVE your neighbor! Maybe your neighbor won't let you get close at all, but you can still pray for them, wave and smile.....planting a seed of kindness can go a long way and GOD loves to make those seeds you plant grow.
Because of CHRIST'S command we should be the ones reaching out, no matter what the outcome, you will know in your heart that you loved unconditionally. We have no idea what goes on behind closed garages, but GOD does! Remember, you may be the only CHRIST someone sees......you may be HIS only hands and feet in your neighborhood. CHRIST is counting on us to love on our neighborhoods. HE did that Himself when HE moved into Bethlehem and HE did that for us when HE moved into our hearts.
Let us ask GOD to help us view our neighborhoods differently, through HIS lens. And let us be open to the art of neighboring being HIS example of love and grace for others.
LUKE 10: 36-37: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." JESUS told him, "Go and do likewise."