@Pontifex Ponderings: Is It a Beautiful Day in Your Neighborhood?

I’ve decided to start a little series here on the blog where I share my first impressions of our Holy Father, Pope Francis’ amazing tweets. For today, he shared:

I have to share that as I sit in my section of suburbia on this Saturday morning, my initial reaction to this tweet was, “Oh crud!”

Follow Pope Francis at @Pontifex on Twitter

I’ve lived in my current house for twelve years. In that time, I have spoken to my next door neighbor a total of one time. The interaction happened shortly after we moved in, when I went next door to introduce myself. Greeted with very little conversation, I said goodbye and haven’t been back since. We live in a sort of weird situation where our comings and goings don’t have us running into one another. If I’m being completely honest, I actually don’t even know what the elderly couple who live next door look like today. I could run into them in the market and not even recognize them. Maybe I have…

That’s sad. 

I can read the tweet above and justify my behavior by thinking, “He’s not really talking about our neighbors who live next door, right?! He sort of means ‘neighbor’ in a more generic way…”

But in this case, I think it’s not so easy to squirm out of the message he’s delivering. Looks like I need to pay another visit, and get busy better knowing — and serving — my neighbors.

A question for you: Do you know your neighbors?

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  • Gail

    I salute you for opening this discussion. Serving one’s neighbor is the “heart and soul” of the Christian faith, yet it’s hard to do.
    Our parish holds two “Serve Our Neighbor Day,” and my family participates in both.
    Yesterday, God granted me the opportunity to serve my neighbor, but this “neighbor” was a total stranger.
    I’m also anxious to hear how others roll up their sleeves, serving their neighbors.

    • lisahendey

      I love hearing that your parish encourages this. In our community, parishes tend to serve folks from all over the city – there really aren’t churches that are governed by boundaries any more. It seems folks seem to gravitate to the one that feels to be the best “fit” for their family. This takes some of the “neighborhood” feel out of our parishes…

  • Kathleen

    as a globally-minded artist and aspiring theologian, i look at the meaning of the
    word, “neighbor” and see so very, very many ways to interpret this: on the most literal level, it is the person next door, but what about the people who live in our own house ~ how well do we honor them, treat them the way we would like to be treated? i have grown siblings (9) who would rather judge me than talk to me ~ and on the most expanded level “neighbor” is all in our human family, but this takes time to wrap our minds around ~

    in direct answer to the original question, yes, i do know my neighbors ~ i moved Dec. 2011 just north-east of shaw & west, central fresno; a small road enters a quiet humble subdivision called Link Care Center; first built as public housing, a Christian organization took over and turned it into an international restoration ministry while renting out 40 each of studio and 1-bedroom apartments to people over age 55; rents support this ministry ~ each building houses 8 apts. and we share common park-like yards ~ i kindly great them and at times we get to chat ~

    to the east of me is an older woman, an “evangelist” ~ when our paths cross, we praise God together!

    to the west is an empty studio ~ the tenant passed away at age 84 last January ~ a group of us attended the memorial ~ “Grandpa Danny” became a very good neighborly friend last year when last year during evening bible prayer all of a sudden 20 honey bees were in my apartment ~ Dan sat with me at the outdoor table, he in his wheelchair, just being there for me for several hours until management got after-hours got professional exterminators ~

    single women have to be careful, though ~ it seems that with low social sexual morals comes predatory behaviors, however subtle ~ one who moved in a few months ago earned a complete shunning by me by direct intrusion and sexual harassment! so that neighbor becomes an enemy ~ when males love females like Jesus loves the Church, we would all know what it is like to be in heaven; meanwhile, i must pray and be cautious!

    • lisahendey

      Thanks Kathleen for this terrific reflection on my query… since we share some “neighbors” I am moved and fascinated by your thoughts. And what a blessing that you have two evangelists living in your complex!!

  • Kathleen

    (sorry, Lisa ~ i think i got confused about how to post on Patheos ~ the second response was edited from the first, after it seemed like it did not get posted (but probably was just going through typical review process)

    • lisahendey

      Sorry for the delay. Sometimes the comments need moderating.

      • Kathleen

        yep! sometimes editing is necessary!

  • Wow, what a great tweet.

    I’m fortunate enough to know a lot of my neighbors … it’s that kind of block. I think most of the credit for that goes to the retired couple who have lived here for forty-ish years and are like the grandparents of the block. They set the tone for the rest of us by starting conversations with their neighbors, sharing vegetables from their garden, keeping an eye out for things on the block, offering to drive us to the airport if we’re travelling, etc. They show the rest of us what being a good neighbor looks like, and I’m so grateful for their example. (And if I were to share my gratitude with them, I know they’d shrug it off by saying, “Well, what else are neighbors for?”). 🙂