My friend Karen Swallow Prior has an award-winning essay up at Christianity Today’s This is Our City project called “How I Learned to Love my Literal Neighbor.” I told her it reminded me of this old Peanuts strip:
Here’s just a taste of Karen’s essay:
“Both of us had been raised in the country, in fact. So living on a lot the size of a postage stamp in a sea of mass-produced buildings stacked up against each other—even the small variations in architectural details followed a pattern—had never been our style. But it was a place to rest our heads during those busy, building years of our marriage. I was teaching and working on my doctorate while my husband traveled, playing music on the regional church-coffeehouse circuit. We weren’t home much.
As committed Christians, we took seriously the parable of the Good Samaritan. We understood that the people whom my husband played for, my peers at the university, the students I taught, those we met through church and volunteer activities, and the strangers we ministered to on overseas mission trips were all our neighbors.”
But we were so busy loving our parabolic neighbors that we had neglected the literal ones.
And she goes on to tell the story of how she grew to love her (literal) neighbors, including an (adorable) little boy who
“likes to help me do my barn chores. He uses his own manure fork, which he requested for Christmas, to help me muck stalls. He likes to check for eggs in the henhouse and proudly carries home the ones he finds. His mother says he gets upset if anyone else eats “his” eggs. Sometimes, she says, he waits out on the back deck of their house, watching for me to come out to the barn to do the evening chores. When he sees me, he hollers for me by name. And I respond in kind.”