Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When your neighbor just happens to be next door...

A few days ago, I posted a quote from my friend Alan about loving my neighbor. It was brought to my attention that we don't need to know our neighbor in order to love them (referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus answers the question, "Who is my neighbor?"). I understand that. First, I would like to emphasize that the loving act that the Samaritan made was due to him taking interest in a stranger in need. Sure, he probably didn't even get to know the man's name, but the point is that he saw a need and met it.

When I read Alan's post, what I understood was that so many times we are wanting to meet the needs of those far from us (or our own), that we don't stop to realize that the people in our own neighborhoods need to be loved. And because most of them aren't lying in the streets wounded, we need to get to know them. As I look back, I think of the places I lived where I didn't know my neighbors. Now that I am more than 10 years removed from those times, I wish I had befriended the pregnant asian-immigrant who often spent time at the steps with her toddler. I'm sure I at least smiled at her and may have said hello, but I went right into my apartment. This was during a time that I had time on my hands and felt so insignificant because I was not working (my immigration employment authorization had not come through yet), and I didn't have kids to stay home to. Now I can think of many ways I could have befriended that woman, and provided support to her when she had to call the police on her husband when he was drunk and abusive. Too bad I was so busy trying to figure out what I should be doing with my life that I couldn't see as far as next door. Too bad that hindsight is 20/20. That's why Alan's statement spoke to me the way it did.

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