Last week in our Spirit Play class we told the story of the Good Samaritan. I love this version of our story as the end is a reflection about who was a good neighbor. The character of the traveler is shown. “Who was the neighbor to this one?” We don’t stop there though, I held up the picture of one of the characters who had beaten the traveler. “Who was the neighbor to this one?” And I held up one of the people who walked by on the other side of the road. “Who was the neighbor to this one? We happened to have several visitors in our class on Sunday so we got to practice together. How were we neighbors to our new friends? How were we neighbors to each other?
As we often say in our congregation, “There are no other people’s children”. We belong to each other. We are all people’s children. We all are unique in the world and carry a gift in us that is only ours to give. How can we more clearly see this in all people? I have been sitting with this all week. Who is the neighbor to the person on the side of the road asking for money? Who is the neighbor of all of the women in our country stepping forward with stories of disrespect and violation? And we can’t stop there. Who is the neighbor of those men? Love is not an either or. At it’s best love is a generous unconditional flowing that overspills itself with kindness, humility, openness and restraint. Love can see the truth of where we shine and where we wound one another, and call us into more. It does not condone our acts of wounding, but expands compassion to move us to amends, toward reconciliation, to new life. This kind of love is a discipline and a compelling invitation.
Any time we see others with judgement, it is an opportunity to grow and learn where our hurt is and how to heal it. Any time we can point to “those other people” it is an invitation to expose our own belief in separation and begin to heal it by listening with humility to what is going on inside us. Who is the neighbor to the judged? Who is the neighbor to the one holding judgement? We are called to be neighbor to both, to grow our love and compassion to hold both and to hold a possibility for something new to emerge that binds us into the creative work of bolstering belonging and the beloved community.
This work begins in us. Are we an advocate of love and healing? Where is love in this place? In this person? In this situation? Who is the neighbor to my own heart? Can I count myself as a loving advocate in my own quest for embodying love? When I harm others, what does love call me to?