November 10, 2021 - Neighbor
"But when the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?'"
"Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:34-40)
I was out visiting one of my dear senior saints in an assisted living facility a few weeks back and we were talking about the "good old days." She's 91 so I had to nod and fake agree with her on most things because I had no idea what she was talking about. She grew up on a farm so a lot of her memories were things that had to do with raising and putting up garden produce and slaughtering animals, of trading the local grocer this for that, and laundry. Not sure why any of that was "good." Perhaps a better word would be "simpler" or..."hard."
But one thing struck a chord. It just happens to be something I also enjoy in the realm of the English language - when one takes a noun and uses it as a verb. She said, "Pastor, we just don't neighbor like we used to." Well said.
I was thinking about my neighbor Ron who knows all things neighbory. I walked over to his house after church one Sunday with a little bag of Halloween candy. He's probably in his late 70's +/-. "Hey, Ron, I know that your wife wouldn't let you dress up and go out for Trick or Treat this year and all I could think of is you sitting in here looking at all the kids having fun...you here without any candy...with tears in your eyes. So...Happy Halloween, Ron. And by the way, you can put all your tree branches in my pile. No sense of you killing your lawn when mine is already dead and will probably not be resurrected in that particular place." He confidentially conveyed to me that he has a little problem with sweets and went out and bought a bag of one hundred pieces. I said, "It's between you and me, my friend." I now have some leverage on the guy.
It was a time of male bonding. Two men sharing life at a deep and meaningful level. I'm tearing up as I write this. We then moved into how often he has True Green come and fertilizer his lawn and a recent water leak that he had above his garage door. Precious moments. We were neighboring. I like to go over and neighbor with Ron.
I neighbored with my friend Clifford this week. He lives behind me. I neighbored with his dog, Kia, as well. She was just fixed. Cliff is planning on doing some remodeling. He thinks I should level off my back yard a bit more so it slopes and gets rid of that pond that forms in my backyard during a good rain. "It's drowning your newly planted lilac bushes. You should think about some good American Holly bushes." He's a patriot and a lover of privacy horticulture. Neighbors neighboring. And women say we don't share. Non-sense. We bare our souls as men.
"Love your neighbor as yourself." Maybe it's as simple as a short visit with some candy or a lean on the fence when you've got other things to do. Petting someone's dog. Maybe "love your neighbor as yourself" is just taking the time to be...to neighbor. Maybe it's giving what I want. Someone to care, to befriend me. Someone to listen to me when what I'm talking about is of very little interest to them. Someone to just be interested in me.
A cup of sugar...when none is needed.