Yvonne Gentile serves on The Church of the Resurrection staff as the Director of Connections. Yvonne directs the team that helps people get connected into the life of the church through service, studies, group life, and other ways of involvement.
We’ve lived in our house for over 20 years now. My husband and I can almost complete the neighbor grid that was in last weekend’s bulletin. The residents in nearly all of the houses around us have changed over time as people have moved in and out of the neighborhood. In the early years of living there, we didn’t know our neighbors as well, and being a good neighbor felt like it was more about following the Home Owners Association rules than a relationship. But that’s changed, and it changed because we’ve gotten to know our neighbors.
My husband Frank does this neighboring thing naturally. He just loves meeting people and finding ways to bless them. Last week he bought bubbles and large bouncy balls for Rosalie and Thomas, the 5- and 3-year olds who live next door to the right of us. He gave a book on gemstones to Maxwell, the 10-year old who lives to the left of us and was expressing an interest in rocks and minerals. He helped Jim, the neighbor across the street, get into house when he was locked out, and worked alongside Mike, who lives behind us, to cut and clear tree limbs brought down by storms earlier this summer.
Neighboring doesn’t come that naturally to me. I stop and talk to our neighbors when I see them, but I don’t spend as much time outside as Frank does, and I’m more of an introvert. Recently I’ve starting walking through my neighborhood each morning, and I’ve been saying hello and exchanging pleasantries with others I see along the way. I’m paying attention, and the faces I see on my walks are becoming familiar. I look for certain people – the couple who at first seemed reticent, but now greet me first, the gentleman who’s always setting the sprinkler up in his back yard who looks for me and smiles and waves hello as I round the bend on the path behind his house, the woman who wears sparkly sunglasses on her morning runs, and the couple who walk their beautiful (and very friendly) black dog together every morning.
It seems to me that the characteristics outlined in today’s passages are not only behaviors we practice, but attitudes as well. When I look at people through a lens of kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, I feel those things, too. When I am open to engaging other people with a smile and casual conversation, the world seems a more beautiful and loving place. Maybe that’s how Christians were meant to change the world – one simple interaction at a time, as others see and experience God’s love through us.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.