What do we owe our neighbors?

There's more to neighborliness than just lending a helping hand with chores.

Once I struggled for over a year to understand how much of a helping hand I owed a neighbor. My neighbor, an elderly widow who lived alone, had a mountainous brush pile that needed removal. It was stacked with tree limbs, hundreds of tangled branches, and lots of bramble. Twice she had lined up handymen to truck it away. Twice they had backed out.

It occurred to me that the whole pile could be gradually disposed of by cutting up the limbs and branches to acceptable size and tying them into a few bundles a week for the regular trash pickups. But I said nothing. A long time passed and the messy pile remained. Conscience urged me to tell her my idea and offer to do it. Again I didn't. Should I do what I saw as an other's work? On the other hand, was I being selfish by holding out? No, I felt; it was crystal-clear to me that the selfishness lay in her indifferent, able-bodied family.

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PROFILE
A healing ministry in the military
July 17, 1989
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