On most afternoons when I get home from work, I take a walk. It’s my time to wind down, get out in the fresh air, and try to burn some of the fat off my aging body. I grab my iPod, put on my headphones and head out for my 3 mile walk around the neighborhood. As I walk, I wave at my neighbors, many out doing a variety of tasks in the yard, some just coming and going in their cars and trucks. Several weeks ago it hit me that I have waved at some of these people for years and I don’t know a thing about them, including their names. Unfortunately, this is not so uncommon in today’s hurried world. We are starved for connection and belonging but don’t take the time get to know the people who live two houses down. So I made a decision. I would still take my walk as normal (because my heart needs the cardio work), but I would remove my headphones and turn off the music if someone was out working outside. I would step out of my private world of music for a moment and enter my neighbor’s world. Stretch my comfort zone. Introduce myself. Be neighborly.
This has made a major difference in the meaning of my walk. I have met several people in my neighborhood (by name, not just by face) and I know a little about them. I am reminded of Jesus saying that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). It is easy to over-expand the application of this and say it applies to everyone in the world (which is true) and then never apply it to the people closest to us, including the people next door or three doors down. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus concludes that the neighbor is the one who showed mercy to the beaten down man on the side of the road. If we are going to show mercy and help our nearby neighbors, don’t you think it would help if we get to know who they are and learn how best to show mercy?
What is the equivalent of your “headphones?” What wall have you put between you and your neighbors?
Let’s show mercy and love our neighbors. Take off the headphones.