Luke 10:29 “But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?”
Most of my years this country girl has lived a relatively neighbor-free life. But no more. And there are issues. The cottage two houses down just sold. Even though they are not my direct neighbors, their home is still closer than any neighbor I had in the first thirty-three years of my life.
The previous owners used it as a seasonal home and were never there. But this is a changing community, as once seasonal cottages become the only affordable homes in Eastern Massachusetts. That’s why I’m here, after all. But since they have moved in last week, it has been constant noise. The kids scream, the adults yell, the dog yaps and runs loose over here which makes Ruckus do what his name implies. All day and well into the evening the yelling and yapping is mixed with banging and crashing which I can only hope signals home improvement of some sort.
The folks across the street are very sweet, which is pretty amazing given that seven adults are crammed into a home that I can’t imagine is comfortable for more than three or four. Their driveway holds three cars. They have seven cars and sometimes have guests. They are always blocking my mailbox and despite my constant pleading and their attentive response in the moment, there continue to be days when no mail can be delivered or picked up because one of their cars is blocking my box.
Last week I learned that there have been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood—late at night. Kids stealing from homes and cars. Somewhere in the hundred or so homes down here there are kids with horribly annoying, loud, foul-fuel-smelling dirt bikes who buzz them down the road in front of my house like killer bees on a mission. There’s the impossibly loud rock band that practices in the house down the street and the dinghy that washed up on my property covered in swastikas.
In all of it, I find that I am more like the lawyer wanting to justify himself than I care to admit. “Who is my neighbor?” he asked, plainly wanting to get out of the uncomfortable position that Jesus had just put him in two verses before by saying that loving his neighbor was the way to receive eternal life. That was only going to be acceptable if he could pick and choose his neighbors—if the neighbor could be those who were like him, who shared his values and didn’t ride noisy dirt bikes near peaceful lakefront homes.
And so I find that God has provided me with the home that is best for my soul. Out back amidst the swans and the herons and the loons and the geese my soul drinks from the mist on the lake. And on the front and to either side is the opportunity for eternal life. My neighbors. If I can only learn to love them.
Help me, God, to see you in the eyes of my neighbors. Amen.
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