Over the last few years I have begun to wonder just what the Lord must have been thinking when He put forth His doctrine of unconditional love with regard to our neighbors. Certainly there must be some guidelines to this edict that have yet to be discovered. When they discovered the “Dead Sea Scrolls” in the late 40′s – early 50′s I am sure there were a number of old people from that generation that held out some hope the newly discovered religious texts might shed some light on the subject along with some criteria on the matter but alas, there was apparently no additional information to be found.
There are some of us old folks who are well known for our attitudes regarding neighborhood children playing in our yards. And yet the first time we incur admonishment for such behavior in the Holy Scriptures is early on when in Leviticus 19:18 the Lord seems to speak directly to this subject saying, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” This subject matter is addressed in similar manner some eleven more times in the Protestant version of the English Bible by Jesus, Paul and James.
But of course when it comes to our neighbors certainly it is not all about children issues. The reality is that it is all about the adults otherwise referred to as the homeowners. I have some good neighbors, some not so good neighbors, and then one or two that just really suck at it! Unfortunately in my case I have had the ill fortune of ending up living between the two that for the most part really suck at it!
I have over the years volunteered to do numerous things for my neighbors including tending their yards from time to time when they were otherwise predisposed. One incident comes to mind with regard to a poison ivy infestation in one of my next door neighbor’s yards. They commented one day to me that they have to stay out of a particular area of their backyard and worry about their kids coming in contact with it. Well, being one of those fortunate individuals who has never seemed to have any adverse reactions to the plant, I said I would be happy to see what I could do with regards to removing it. That afternoon I went over and removed all that I could find as best I could. Over the next three years in keeping with my commitment I continued to monitor any return growth going back several times to root out remnants of the stubborn ivy. That was several years ago and I am still waiting for even the slightest hint of an acknowledgment for the deed.
Now perhaps all these acts of love directed at my neighbors sit well with the Lord with all that “love thy neighbor” crap but I can assure you, it doesn’t sit well with me!
This same neighbor had a small metal shed that was seemingly only moments away from total collapse for a number of years and rather than remove it they kept it in a secluded corner of their yard where they couldn’t see it and shoved it up against my fence with the shed leaning somewhat precariously over toward my yard.
After sitting there for almost two years looking like the redneck version of the Tower of Pisa, I decided to that I needed to get a little more creative in my approach to these kinds of neighbors. I had at some point taken a few photos of the damn thing but then as Christmas approached that particular year I had one of those self-induced creative moments. It occurred to me that in keeping with the “love thy neighbor” criteria I should send my next door neighbor a Christmas card this year. But not just any Christmas card. No, this had to be a special card that encompassed all the love that I harbored for these wonderful people and so it was that a vision of the card you see below came to be….
(Click on image to view full size rendition)
And yes, that is the subject shed which graces the front of the lovely card. In the end of course I could not bring myself to send the card. Certainly I got some relief during the creation of the card but it was a hollow victory. Eventually I had to call our city’s Code Enforcement who stimulated the neighbor into immediately removing the shed.
Hopefully with the writitng of this post I will enjoy a bit of further relief from my lot in life with regard to neighbors and the like….