“…who is my neighbor?…
The one who demonstrated mercy…”
Recently, driving to school to drop my son off, I was delayed at an intersection by someone crossing after the red light. I felt it was best to wait another moment after this driver passed, and right as I started to go, I heard a sharp honk from the driver behind me. Immediately upset, I honked back at them, somehow intending them to understand that I knew the light was green, I was just waiting to make sure all was clear.
I wasn’t fuming, but I was definitely frustrated. Why can’t people be more patient? Isn’t it good to slow down and be sure we’re all safe? Boy, if I knew who that was who honked…
Oh. They’re following me. Oh. They’re dropping their kids at my son’s school as well. Oh. This is someone I see every single morning as they drop their kids.
Oh my. They are perfectly aware that I honked back at them. Is this where the awkward “parents who don’t like each other” issues start? Oh dear.
As I said goodbye to my son and chatted with his teacher a bit, I was thinking through strategies for how to effectively exit the school without more of a commotion with this person. But when I got back to my car, they were still in front of the school.
And then I remembered the story of the good Samaritan, which is told in the Bible, in the tenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. I was struck by Jesus’ closing words; the neighbor isn’t the one who is helped. The neighbor is the one who actively, intentionally reaches out. The neighbor is the one who sees a need, and responds with mercy and love.
All my exit strategies went out the window as I pulled up next to their car, opened my window and apologized for honking at them. The parent was so sweet, even apologetic about the initial incident. Our ensuing brief conversation about our kids and how we knew each other a long time ago was nothing but pleasant and warm. I know I’ll see them every day, and now I look forward to it!
I certainly didn’t have to say anything, and I am sure everything would have been fine. But I am so grateful for God’s tender love and watchful care that opened my eyes to the opportunity to drop all self-justification and just be a good neighbor.
The final lesson came as I drove off, feeling grateful and satisfied. Gently, the thought came, “Do you think you’re done being a good neighbor?” What a send-off for the rest of the day – and every day!
Every day, seen in the light of God’s active love, is filled with opportunities to both be a good neighbor, and gracefully receive the neighborly qualities of others. When it seems like the atmospheres of our communities can be so filled with rancor and criticism, how comforting and energizing to know that our right – and duty – to be a good neighbor cannot be taken away.
This is a wonderful day to cherish our neighborhood of brothers and sisters.
One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.
-Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures 340:23 –