Here we are at Wednesday, friends! I hope this week's going well for you!! We're switching gears, and I'm offering us a challenge today in the shape of this here blog post by my friend, Colleen. She is wife, mother of 5 (adorables), and a freelance writer for various online Catholic publications (phew!). You can find her on the web at Meditations of a Stay at Home Mom, where she pontificates about important things like potty training and sippy cups. And now, Miss Colleen...
Jane’s mother needed a stepladder and a telephone and she asked if she could borrow ours. As my husband scrambled to find what she needed, I tried to talk to Jane’s emotionally overwrought mother. She was distracted and preoccupied and it was obvious she needed help.
“Is everything ok?” I asked her.
“Jane died a few weeks ago,” she stated simply, turning her back on me so she could look at her daughter’s now empty house.
I stood in my doorway, dumbfounded. Mosquitos buzzed at our heads and moths flocked to the dim porch light overhead.
“She died?” I repeated, softly, incredulously. “How?”
“She was diagnosed with cancer about six months ago. It came on fast and furious and the chemo and the meds weren’t much help to her. She was real sick at the end. She suffered a lot and now she’s gone,” she said as tears slid out of her eyes and down her cheeks. She sniffled quietly.
I choked down my own fresh set of water works.
How could my neighbor, a woman who lived only ten steps away from me, be sick for months and I not have a clue?
How could she have died and I not know it?
I immediately thought about what I would have done if I had known:
- I would have made her a meal.
- I would have brought her fresh flowers.
- I would have made her homemade cards and delivered them with a stack of smutty, celebrity magazines.
- I would have done something, however small, to make this woman’s final days brighter.
Isn’t it strange that we live in a über technologically connected society so emotionally disconnected?
The late, great Mother Teresa said,
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty-- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”You, the person reading this right now, probably live in a neighborhood where people feel unloved.
I know I do.
What are we going to do about it? Will we love our neighbors or let them die?
St. John Baptist de la Salle offers a solution, albeit challenging:
“Adapt yourself with gracious and charitable compliance to all your neighbor’s weaknesses. In particular, make a rule to hide your feelings in many inconsequential matters. Give up all bitterness toward your neighbor, no matter what. And be convinced that your neighbor is in everything better than you. This will not be difficult if you keep even a little aware of yourself. It will give you the ability to overcome your feelings of resentment. Each day look for every possible opportunity to do a kindness for those you do not like. After examining yourselves on this matter every morning, decide what you are going to do, and do it faithfully with kindness and humility.”We aren’t called to like everybody, but we are called to love them and our neighborhoods, our communities, the people we encounter everyday, are a good place to start.
Some suggestions for serving your neighbor:
--If you’ve never met the people who live in the house next door, go introduce yourself! Today!
--The next time you make dinner, double the recipe. Attach a little note and bring it to the house next door.
--On Christmas or Easter, deliver handmade (or store bought!) cards and delicious sweets. (This is the one time of the year where it’s socially acceptable to be a Christ-bearer! Take advantage of it!)
--On Halloween or Valentine’s Day (or any other holiday!), make goodie bags and have your kids hang them from neighbors’ doors with little notes.
--Mow a neighbor’s yard just because.
--Bring fresh cut flowers or a potted plant to the house next door.
--Organize a neighbor hood potluck. Set up lawn chairs and grills, block off the streets and have everyone bring their family’s favorite dish. Give all the kids sidewalk chalk and bubbles and let them decorate the place.
--Purchase Sparklers for the kids on July 4 and invite the littles in your neighborhood to come share the fun!
----If none of the above are viable options, pray daily for your neighbor. Beg God to bless them, every day and in everyway.
What, says you, are your favorite ways to love your neighbor?