I love to write, but it’s interesting that I didn’t write a blog post all summer.  It occurs to me that writing is therapeutic to me.  Summer isn’t very stressful, for the most part, in my work… and perhaps that’s why I didn’t write a blog post.  I didn’t really need to write.  A few sermons were enough to keep the candle burning.  But… the school year is beginning, the to-do list and responsibilities are growing fast, and I suddenly feel a need to write.  So here’s today’s insight:   

Today I saw a friend in the grocery store.  She lives far out in a rural area, so I rarely see her.  Recently her family has been going through an extremely difficult time.  I’ve had her name written in my prayer journal and on my to-do list that reminds me that there’s something she needs help with that I can continue to work on.  Seeing her was wonderful She’s a warm, generous soul.  We embraced, she updated me on her family, then she pointed to another woman nearby and mentioned that she had brought this person with her to the store because that woman doesn’t have transportation unless someone helps her.  “I could have asked for her shopping list and done it for her, but everyone wants to get out of the house sometimes.  Everyone needs a break,” she said.  This friend is under intense stress right now, but she opted to help another person this afternoon and to meet their needs for grocery-shopping together.  Even under great stress, she loved her neighbor, and they both seemed happy because of this.   

This afternoon I took mom with me when driving my daughter to an event half an hour away.  We passed a church and I mentioned that I will be attending a funeral there next week for a co-worker.  Mom asked about the person who died.  I mentioned that he had been his mother’s caregiver so his sudden death is especially difficult for her and for many others.   Mom, who seems to grow more confused lately, spoke up:  “Well why don’t you bring her to see me sometime?  We could go out and do things together.  If she enjoys my company, we could get together often.  I’d like to help her if I can.”  Mom doesn’t know what town or what state we live in.  She doesn’t know how old she is or how long she’s been living here.  She doesn’t know what she had to eat for dinner once she gets up from the table.  But she wants to help cheer up the stranger and give her company.   

In our culture, we often think the ones who can “help” or who can “give” are the “fortunate” ones:  the rich, the popular, the ones with the easy life.  How beautiful to be reminded today that a friend going through a very hard time is also the one offering help to another, the one giving the priceless gift of friendship.  My mother, deep in the confusion of dementia, still wants to offer solace and friendship to a stranger 

For those who follow Christ and take seriously His call to love our neighbor as ourself, I hope that my day is a comfort.  Yes… we are called to love our neighbor generously on our good days, when we are strong and well-rested, when we have some cash or energy to spare.  But… even when stress builds, even when life takes an unexpected turn, even when we or our family goes through a very difficult time that call is still there because it has become a part of who we are as a follower of Christ.  My surely overwhelmed friend helps her neighbor, because that’s who she is.  My mom, who is profoundly forgetful, remembers to comfort the grieving.  May we all practice this sacrificial love of neighbor NOW so that if or when we encounter difficult times or a progression of dementia, it will be second nature to us to love our neighbor as ourself 

I hope I never experience the challenges of my friend or of my mother, but if I do, I hope I’m as generous and kind as they are.   

One thought on “Remember to love your neighbor

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