Monday, November 17, 2014

Like a Good Neighbor...

What does it take to be a good neighbor?  Are we good neighbors?  Do we think of what the view of us from over the fence might be like?  It’s a challenge to be neighborly.  We are so focused on our own busy lives and families and interests that to be neighborly too seems an extra burden.  I can remember living in New York City and having no idea who was living on the other side of my brick walls.  People were there, living their lives only feet away from me.  Having private moments and difficult conversations, committing lies, or having dinner alone, all in a space less distant than that between two parked cars.
I don’t regularly quote the Bible, but Mark 12:28-31 is pretty good. It has two parts to it.  The first is about our relationship with God as the Jews saw it, the second is my favorite, it’s about our relationships with each other.  The text reads:  

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that [Jesus] had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL 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, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  

It’s all about relationship.  No commandment is greater than being in relationship.  But the crux of this quote is, you love yourself.  How do you rate with yourself?  Do you feel worthy of love?  Do you feel worthy of comfort?  In the general sense, how you think about yourself is potentially how you think about your neighbor.  Be good to you. Be good to the person next to you.   
Let’s take a nice cleansing breath and see yourself standing on the side of a beautiful little road.  It winds up in both directions to your right and left.  It rises and dips like a ribbon and eventually swirls out of sight, but you know it goes on for a long way, toward destinations yet to be experienced. 
Visualize your feet resting on the soil and let the earth give slightly beneath you, drawing you in.  Making you feel welcome there.  Listen to it sigh and settle around you molding itself into what you would have it be, so excited you decided to stop and call it home.  Soon a stranger with a small bag and a smiling face comes by and admires how pleasant your little spot is and your heart jumps when you realize they have decided to become your neighbor.  You are so glad to see them.  Such an honor.  You are so proud of yourself for choosing this spot.  And you wave warmly to your new neighbor.  You smile knowingly as the earth gives slightly beneath them too.  You know this person will be your friend.  Picture that imaginary friendship and the good it brings into your life.  Sit for a few quiet moments now in the warmth of that feeling.  Draw it out and wrap it around you like a blanket, take a deep breath, and just sigh
May our neighbors know us and love us.  And may we, in respect and mutuality, return 
the favor threefold.  So may it be. 

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