Who is my Neighbor?

There are many costs to living constantly plugged in as we do. I was in bed reading last night when from the corner of my eye I saw the news ticker at the bottom of my iPad flash as it will sometimes do, though not often at nearly 11 on a Saturday night. The jury deciding George Zimmerman’s fate was in and he had been found not guilty.

I said that there are many costs to living as we do. One of the prices we pay for being perpetually plugged in is that we feel particularly vulnerable. I feel vulnerable. I never quite know when the next heartbreaking headline will make its way to me. I struggle with many sleepless nights for people I do not know.

I struggle with far more for the people I know well. For Kathy, the woman in her 60s who has lived in her car for 4 years now with her cat and no small amount of pride. I have not seen her in nearly two months and I worry a good deal about her. Is she all right? Has something happened to her? Wherever she is, I pray that she is at peace.

For my friend Curtis, who is 20 and has not yet realized that he is good, nevermind great. I pray that he will see it sooner than later.

For my friend Val who feels so much, so deeply. I thank God for her and the reminder that feeling is a blessing and a curse. I mourn the sadness that the recent changes in her life have brought about and pray that she will realize what joy is possible and what joys she makes possible simply by being.

Things such as the Zimmerman verdict can knock the wind out of my sails momentarily if I linger in the sense of injustice. However, I do not work toward justice.

I was not called to bring about justice though it is a noble idea.

My call is radically different. I am called to pour out mercy, foolishly and freely, and with a glad heart.

Today’s lectionary text was the story of the good Samaritan. In it, a man asks “Who is my neighbor?” What he is really asking is, “What is the least required of me?” Justice is what is required of us; no more. Mercy is foolish, wild, senseless. Mercy asks, “What else can I do for you?” Mercy doesn’t lead with the head, but with the heart.

Where it leads isn’t always beautiful. In the past six months it has taken me to:
the courthouse
jail
a wedding
two funerals
the hospital to see two new babies
the crisis intake center, twice
the emergency room, four times
several doctor’s appointments

I never understood until recently what Scripture meant when it said that to follow its teachings was life-giving.

To give mercy, to give of myself has not always been beautiful. But in slowly stripping away concern about myself, my ego and my petty “stuff” I have gotten in return, life.

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