If you, like me, are a fan of Fred Rogers, you know that his name is synonomous with being a neighbor. Mr. Rogers is quoted as saying, “Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
That is the most simple and complex of instructions. Do you know your neighbors? Truly know them? In the book The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon, the authors note, "When Jesus said that all the commandments can be summed up in loving God and loving our neighbors [as ourselves], he was on to something. What would happen if we all just did what Jesus said to do? What if we get to know our actual neighbors? This sounds simple, but it's easy to miss."
We live in an isolated, busy world - so it is worth asking? Do you know who lives next door? What would change if we offered just one kind word or deed to the person next door?
Maybe you've tried and your literal next door neighbor isn't going to budge on an invitation to friendship. Maybe you have very legitimate reasons for not crossing yards. I don't fault that one bit - I've been there too. But the question is worth asking both literally and metaphorically. How do we neighbor well? If it isn't next door, how about the next street? If it isn't in the neighborhood, how about the office next door at work or the classroom across the hall? Let's get creative in how we show and shower the art of neighboring. I invite you to share a message of kindness with someone you may have overlooked, to reinvest in someone you haven't seen for awhile, or to invite someone new into a friendship. Sometimes our smallest acts of even one kind word changes things into one kind(er) world.
"I believe that appreciation is a holy thing - that when we look for what's best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we're doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbor, we're participating in something sacred."
- Fred Rogers