After a month of hibernation from snow and freezing temps, February seemed to come out of hiding, begging for my attention. I actually prefer the hibernation but also don’t want to overindulge my recluse tendencies and so I was handing out yeses left and right. Needless to say, it was a much busier month than this possible HCP introvert prefers.
That said, all the busy moments were spent doing things I love, with people I care about. Peppered in and amongst catching up with friends was the wedding of my neighbors that was an absolutely delightful experience, on several levels. One, because in a previous life, I used to be a wedding and event coordinator of sorts, I had a blast helping them set up and decorate. Putting together a Pittsburgh cookie table (thanks to friends from church) brought back memories of cookie-baking days with my dear Gram. And I haven’t worn a dress in ages, so yes–it was even fun to get dressed up and party!
But just the fact that I’m writing about neighbors leaves me somewhat floored. Neighbors and neighborhoods weren’t always a part of my life. My tween and teen years were spent “out in the country,” as we called our 10-plus acres in Washington County. The closest neighbors (next to my gram, who lived across the field from us) were the Hornes, who lived at least a quarter mile down the gravel road. “Young Dave,” as his parents called him, was around 70 when we moved there, and his parents (and aunt) were all in their nineties! A couple times a month, my sister and I were told to go buy eggs from the Hornes. We’d moan and groan because between feeding Mrs. Horne’s school of carp and refreshing her memory on our names and ages and waiting while she picked out a dozen or so eggs for us easily added up to an hour that could’ve been spent playing in the creek or building secret hideouts!
But seriously–as much as there was to love about the wide open spaces–I grew up longing for the kind of neighbors you could borrow milk or eggs from, neighbors to sit and chat with on warm summer evenings, neighbors who’d be there for you when push came to shove. Between the wedding last month, and my other downstairs neighbor bringing her delightful pup up to play with my Radar, I realized ahh… a dream has been fulfilled.
Coincidentally, our pastor has been teaching through the parable of the Good Samaritan over the past six weeks, and I’ve started to see “neighboring” in a whole new light. I’ve always marveled at Jesus’ way of reframing the question asked of him by the Jewish teacher. “Who is my neighbor?” is not the point at all. Jesus deftly tells a story, then turns it back to his questioner: “Who was a neighbor to the man in need?” The neighbor, of course, was the one who saw and did not look away, who paused his own agenda and shared freely of his resources to help someone else.
As I said, I’m certainly blessed with good neighbors but I’m starting to realize it’s more than just living in harmony with people in close proximity. Perhaps neighboring is more of an intentional act than a coincidental convenience. Maybe I’ve been looking for neighbors in all the wrong places.