The Gift of Being Trusted

It was a busy intersection in bustling mid-day traffic and I’d just pulled up to a right-turn yield sign, ready to slide myself into traffic when there was a break in the flow. I glanced to the right and saw a young Black man with a shopping cart full of belongings, waiting to cross to the island on the other side of me. He saw me look at him – I think I smiled – and he pointed to the island – he was asking if he could go ahead and cross in front of me. I smiled and pointed to the island, too, and raised my eyebrows and nodded my head – indicating that he was good to go. He nodded his head at me and crossed in front of me – trusting me – and we gave each other a “have a good day” wave.

And I know this seems like just a litte thing, but I can’t tell you what it meant to me that this young man trusted his life to me as he crossed in front of my car.

That’s how communities function, isn’t it? We’re all trusting each other with our very lives – every day of every month of every year that we’re out there, moving amongst each other.

Neighborliness

Being neighborly…neighborliness 2

“Wouldn’t the world be happier, friends, if in our dealings with one another we could always truthfully say that whatever we thought or said or did expressed the nature of God as divine Love? …This may sound like an impossible goal. But it really isn’t. When we understand how to listen for divine Love’s guidance, there’s no need to be thrown off base by what our neighbor does or doesn’t do. Of course we’re all familiar with the temptations that would upset good relations… a dog or too loud radio keeps someone awake half the night; someone decides a neighbor isn’t good enough, has the wrong kind of name, or perhaps one envies the good thing his neighbor has…But whatever the temptation, we can refuse to be impulsive or spiteful, self-righteous or jealous. Through the understanding of divine Love each of us can learn to be a good neighbor. And a good neighbor doesn’t gossip, criticize, or even wish that he or the folks next door could move away. “
– The Christian Science Sentinel,
December 4, 1954

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good neighbor. So when I stumbled, all unexpectedly, on the article “The Remedy for Neighborhood Tensions” from an old 1954 Christian Science Sentinel, I felt the train of my thoughts come skidding to a halt as I stopped to ponder the ideas the article had to offer me.

As I’ve reflected on “neighborliness” I’ve come to understand that being a good neighbor doesn’t mean we have to “take sides” in neighborhood disputes. I don’t have to hate one neighbor to show love to another. I don’t have to criticize one neighbor, to show friendship to another. I don’t have to gossip about one neighbor, to show support for another. I don’t have to get angry or fired up or militant to take a firm stand for what is right and decent.

Being a good neighbor comes down to this one thing: I simply need to love – without exclusion or discrimination or judgment or condemnation.  That’s my whole job, right there. To love.  I need to see my neighbor as God sees my neighbor – as God’s dear child – beautiful and good and whole and happy.  If I can see my neighbor through the eyes of God, Love, then I won’t be threatened or annoyed or irritated or frightened by him – I’ll enter into dialogue with him expecting to find solutions to conflict, and answers to problems. 

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  I’m thinking that means that what we want for ourselves, we should want for our neighbors, too. If I want to be trusted, then I need to be willing to trust. If I want to be treated with consideration, than I need to be considerate.  If I want to be shown kindness, then I need to show kindness. 

…And Love is reflected in love.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Cosmic Co-op

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  – H. Jackson Browne, Jr.

For three years I’ve had a view of the Mount Vernon Co-op from my office window. Every now and then I’d gaze out the window and across the freeway at the friendly-looking brick building – watch the customers going in and out of it – and wonder how long it might take me to “get there from here.”  I’d always thought it would be too long – that I wouldn’t be able to get there and back before a student showed up for a session with me at the alternative high school where I work.

But last week I went for it. A couple of students had shown up early for their appointments with me and I found myself with an hour in the middle of the day to do some adventuring. So I donned my backpack and headed down the hill and over the overpass on a reconnaissance. When I got to the bottom of the hill I turned around and headed back to the school, and when I got to my office I realized that it had only taken 10 minutes to get to the bottom of the hill and back!

The next day – knowing now that it didn’t take that long to get to the bottom of the hill and back – I ventured a little further. This time I actually went into the Co-op. I ordered a peach smoothy and brought it back to my office with me. The clock showed that I had only been gone from my desk for 20 minutes!

Since that day I have managed to find time every day to hike down to the Co-op for my peach smoothy, a little exercise, some fresh air, and a quick hobnob with the co-op community..Yesterday I ran into a former teaching colleague and a woman who lived down the street from us 30 years ago – that was way fun. And today I ran into a former student from ten years ago who’d just returned from a trip to Thailand. And this was kind of cool – as I was walking down the hill to go to the co-op this morning, I saw a man approaching me carrying a sign that said “Peace” on it. As we got 30 or 40 yards from each other we both smiled simultaneously at each other, and I held up my fingers in the “peace sign.” He returned the “peace sign” to me, and then veered off the sidewalk to go to the co-op – me following behind him.

I am really enjoying my daily Co-op break.

I wonder who I’ll run into next time?