Monday, August 1, 2011

     "If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in." 
 Frederick Buechner (Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary)

    Rain or shine, snow or sleet, my husband awakens every morning, puts on his house shoes and heads outside to get the newspaper. He picks our paper up and then he walks over to the adjacent driveway and picks up another paper. This one he carries right up to the front door and places it on the front stoop so that the elderly person on the other side can get to it without having to go too far. It's a simple thing really, but it is an act of gratitude and an act of love. 
   Our next door neighbors are a gift from God. Mr. M, all of ninety years old, gets up every morning at 4 am and drives his bright red truck into town to an inner city grocery store that he owns and still runs. Do you realize how few inner city grocery stores there really are? Our city is no different from many others. In a time and place when many of the urban dwellers with no transportation are forced to do their grocery shopping at minute markets and gas stations, Mr. M and his family are committed to the inner city community they have served for the past 65 years. The Daughter shops there. I shop there when I am on that side of town. I always tell the cashiers that Mr. M is my neighbor because I am proud and honored to know him. 
    Mr. M's wife no longer drives. Yet they both still lead important and productive lives. They are active members of their church community (their attendance puts ours to shame); she attends a weekly Bible Study, and they spend countless hours with family and close friends. They are also the patriarch and matriarch of a still growing clan and their faces glow with joy and pride when they talk about their children, grandchildren and great-grands. 
    They are also two of the kindest and most gentle souls I have ever met. They are not famous. However, I am willing to bet that in the kingdom of heaven and in God's economy, they are bona fide treasures of incalculable worth.  Mr. and Mrs. M are salt of the earth people who love Jesus and it shows. It radiates outward in the way that they love their family, the way that they have loved us, their neighbors, and the way that they live their lives. Every single day.
    I hope we can stay close enough to them for their goodness and kindness to rub off on me, 'cause when I grow up, I want to be just like them. 

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