Married in 1968, we lived in six different places during the first 12 years of our marriage. When we moved into our first single-family house in 1980, we landed among some great neighbors. They put up with many College and Career, as well as youth group pool parties, our sons and their friends, summer band rehearsals, and our dogs. Students came by to watch Hamlet or Death of a Salesman; we almost had a revolving door on the place!
And who were these tolerant folks? We had good neighbors all around, but our neighbors right next door watched our house as it they owned it. If anyone strange drove into the driveway, Joe or Geniene strode out and asked some questions. They even stopped my brother and sister-in-law once when Dave and I were away for the weekend. “How do you know the Wolfes?” asked Joe. After explaining the situation, Joe left them alone, but when Dave and I returned on Sunday night, Geniene came over and asked what my brother looked like.
After almost 30 years of suburban living in Arnold, we relocated to our log cabin on Winding Ridge. The mailboxes for the homes here sit in a row at the end of Bearfoot Road. Getting the mail involves a .4 mile walk each way in all kinds of weather, as Dave discovered last winter. But we have again found outstanding neighbors, folks who tell us about the activities going on in the county, take in our mail when we’re gone, and keep an eye on our house. Beyond that, they share extra flowering bulbs, dig up spreading perennials and give them to us, and offer us fresh flowers and veggies from their gardens. The local UPS man gave his cell number to Dave the first week we lived here. Randy thoughtfully leaves packages where they’ll be dry and safe from our local critters if we’re not home. Then we get a call saying that he’s delivered a package.
An NIV concordance uses the word neighbor 78 times; I find some worthy reminders there about being a good neighbor:
Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”— when you now have it with you. Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Prov. 3:28-29
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:2
Love does no harm to its neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
Yet, perhaps Jesus’ command to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” gives us the clearest reminder.