As we enter this month of thanksgiving, we ponder what we are thankful for. Van and I were recently reminded of the blessings that flow from the give and take of cherished relationships. About a month ago, we were graced with the privilege of being present when his mom passed from this life. As we sat with her we sought to gift her with our touch as we cradled her hands in ours, and with our words as we spoke our love to her, and with our tears as we grieved our separation from her. In the months that preceded her passing, as she lay bed-ridden, we gave many hours to sitting with her, caring for her, addressing her physical needs, giving back to her what she spent a life-time giving to her children. Those days were stressful, exhausting, challenging. Yet the beauty of intimacy rose above those trying moments.
It’s relationships that shape us, give us purpose, make us feel alive and grateful and honored to be a part of something beyond ourselves.
In the early months of our marriage, Van and I attended a marriage seminar where the speaker explained that the neighbor in the well-known saying, “love your neighbor as yourself,” is your spouse, your family, anyone and everyone other than yourself—not just the people who live next door. Yet certainly it has application in neighbor relations. What does it mean to love your neighbor? It means communicating to them that they matter. It’s that simple. And our Creator has knit us together in such a way that to do so—to endow another with honor and dignity—can be as easy as greeting with the wave of a hand or a friendly “hello!” shout out across lawns. More so, it’s extending grace and mercy, expressing interest and concern. It’s helping when a need is perceived; it’s showing up when invited.
But why not go a step further? Take the time to learn about the people who live around you. Did you know that this neighborhood is home to accountants, engineers, college professors, real estate agents, architects, insurance agents, web-designers, theatrical art directors, school teachers, dental hygienists, motivational speakers, dog-walkers, entrepreneurs, authors, musicians, gardeners, you name it . . ., retirees, students, singles, marrieds-without-children, marrieds-with-children, widows and widowers. There are 592 homes in our neighborhood. The variety is endless. There are no cookie-cutter homes here and no cookie-cutter people. Celebrate the kaleidoscope of folks who call Town Creek home—their histories, stories, insights and perceptions as unique as their DNA. Venture to give a bit of yourself and see what you get in return.
We naturally tend to gravitate toward those who are most like us. But what if we shook things up a bit, stepped out of our comfort zones and dared to make friends with the folks with whom we share living space. Maybe this year you’ll have a new relationship to be thankful for.
Sheri & Van Littrell