Prior to moving to Hastings in 2010, our middle son lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. This Oil is a painting I completed from photographs taken in his St. Paul neighborhood. I called these colorful homes my ‘painted ladies of St. Paul’, recalling sites from a visit to San Francisco and seeing its now famous colorful set of historic homes called ‘painted ladies’. I chose this Oil as a visual reflection of our Thought for this week—Neighbor.
Have you become more aware of neighbors since COVID-19 restrictions pretty much limited us to our homes? Since my Anytime Fitness Gym closed, I’ve been walking outside. I’ve noticed ‘walkers’ is no longer just dogs walking their owners! And it’s not just in Minnesota. Our California son posted:
“A few days ago, I posted on Facebook about an experience my wife Suzi and I had while taking an evening walk. Here’s the content of that post.
“I just got back from an evening walk with my lovely bride. We’ve never seen as many people out on the walking trail near our house as we did tonight. Families and neighbors out walking together, walking their dogs, riding bikes. People were smiling and greeting each other like actual neighbors! Could a silver lining of the COVID-19 cloud include a chance for families and neighbors to slow down and connect? We hope so. It seemed like it this evening. May that increase!!”
“I received several comments on that post all saying that similar things were happening in their areas. Those are examples of people making lemonade. I watched a video recording of what John Maxwell presented live streamed on Sunday, March 22nd called “Leading Through a Crisis.” (I highly recommend following the link and watching all 4 of the presentations) In that presentation, John said that a crisis is a distraction. Distraction is the opposite of traction. Traction is when you gain ground and make progress forward. Crises pull us away and confuse our priorities.
“He [Maxwell] went on to say that nothing will cause you more anxiety than trying to control what you can’t control. When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade. Leaders help people regain traction during distraction.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I’ve been reflecting on the familiar biblical phrase:“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s first mentioned in the Old Testament book of Leviticus 19:18. In the New Testament, Jesus states it first in Matthew 19:19. The Apostle Paul quotes it in Romans and Galatians. James, the brother of Jesus, said in James 2:8 “If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself” you are doing right.”
“And who is my neighbor?”
An expert in the law once asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded with the need to love God… “and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” The expert’s follow-up question: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ response was the story of the Good Samaritan who stopped on his journey to help a wounded stranger, alongside the road. Then, “Jesus told the expert, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 11:25-37
“…Neighbor is an old English word that means, literally, “the boor who is neigh thee,” that is, nearby. Not the bore who is nearby! A boor is a farmer, and a neighbor is the farmer nearby. You are called to love those who are neigh thee—your family, your friends, your coworkers, the folks in your neighborhood, and, yes, even the “enemies” in your life, the ones who irritate, demean, frustrate, and mistreat you.” —Living Without Lack p. 177
One author wrote… “I was zooming on down the track of my life, focused on whatever it was I was doing, oblivious to other people around me. I was deeply burdened when I realized that I had been living this way. How could I love my neighbor if I wasn’t even aware of them?”
Sometime a life-changing event, like the current virus, can give one a new quality of awareness of oneself and others. You begin to see people with new eyes, with new appreciation and love, even though they have not changed.
Go for a walk…meet your neighbors, But, remember…
“Love your neighbor…—by maintaining the 6-foot rule—and
… as [you love] yourself.”—by washing your hands when you get home!
Have a great week neighbor!