If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. James 2:8 NIV
The boys grew up calling her “Neighbour”. Seriously, I think they thought that was her actual name. At first we weren’t sure of her name. So we would say to the boys, “Say hi to neighbour”. “Neighbour’s flowers are so pretty” or “Neighbour is out working again”. Eventually the name stuck. She even starting signing her Christmas cards to us; From “Neighbour”.
She was a widow who lived next door to us in Windsor. She was a good neighbour. We did neighbourly things. Took in each other’s mail when the other was away. Mark buried a skunk for her, that died in her back yard. He would do other odd jobs that she couldn’t do. Sounds weird but moving away from her was hard. We hoped the new people would be good to her.
Neighbours can make or break where you live. Our new neighbourhood has some challenges. Honestly there was a lot I didn’t like at first. Over the last two years I’ve tried to move past those things and accept the new normal. Except the barky dogs and the outside lights shining in our rooms all night, I’ve gotten used to most of it.
I didn’t get off to the best start. For example most of the kids think I’m a really mean mom. I’ve lost my temper at the bullying and occasionally at my own two as they pounded each other with their fists.
We have rules and boundaries for our children. It doesn’t always make us popular with our children or our children popular with other kids.
However after studying the book of James last winter and reading a book about being a good neighbour, I was convicted. I could do a lot better. How about friendly to start?
I began small. Praying for neighbours who had lost loved ones. There were two houses within doors of us who had lost a spouse and a mother. Taking a minute to talk to the people who live next to us when we are all outside. It’s baby steps really but they make a difference.
There are four of us on our street now who kind of look out for each other. Our neighbour right next door is ninety-four and she lives with her daughter. I really hope I’m like her at ninety-four! She looks seventy. She is spry and sharp as a tact. Feisty as all get out.
The neighbour across the street is a recent widow. Cancer cut short what appeared to be a great retirement for these two. They were friendly and had come right over to our house and introduced themselves. That’s a rarity these days. I can’t even imagine how hard this year has been for her.
The two of us try to keep our ninety-four year old neighbour from having to shovel. I shovel when it’s not deep snow. Jean* has a snowblower and when it’s a big snowfall, she’s over blowing out Eleanor’s* driveway and our combined sidewalk. Today I was so grateful as she blew out the rest of my drive that I hadn’t finished yet. The drifts are so big now that I can hardly get the snow up on them. We didn’t say much other than “Thank you!” but there was a friendly feeling in the air that inspires me to keep getting to know the people around me.
I believe that’s why we were put on earth. Jesus didn’t just sit in the temple and preach. He did on occasion. More frequently he was going out to the people. Meeting them in their communities, neighbourhoods, even in their wildernesses. If we really want to be the church shouldn’t we take Jesus to the people? In our neighbourhoods, workplaces and schools. Wherever we go. Whatever we do. (I’m writing this more to myself than any of you. I constanly need to be reminded of this!) If we are there, then so is Jesus because aren’t we supposed to be his hands and feet? Speak love. Shovel snow.
*Names have been changed.