““The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self – to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.” Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith, HarperOne. 2010.
Our oldest son takes his daughter to high school each day on his way to work. If they leave with some extra time they stop at their favorite coffee or smoothie haunt and have a cup of coffee or smoothie together. I am thinking what a treasure to have a few minutes a day with one of your parents and maybe even share a cup of your comfort drink. They are both introverts so they probably may not say much, but it is a presence, one on one experience with someone you care about and would like to get to know a little better.
I grew up in a small town with amazing neighbors. Mrs. Rick, a widow with pearl white hair, lived across the street in a house that seemed huge at the time. One of our neighbors on second street had to move away for physical reasons. Mrs. Rick then started walking at nine every morning for seven blocks from second street to ninth street up to Riddle’s Drug Store to meet this neighbor for coffee. Our next-door neighbor, Paul, cut Mrs. Rick’s grass every week.
I have a friend who calls me every morning. Most people are too busy just to call or talk to one person a day on a regular basis that is not work related.
These are the kinds of relationships that especially can spring us from ourselves. We don’t have to pretend any more. If we allow it, these people learn who we really are like. When we are with them we begin to let down our mask and start becoming the person God created us to be.