Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who is My Neighbour?

I had a disturbing dream the other night...

We lived in a nice, little bungalow in a neighbourhood full of other nice, little bungalows. Our kids ran the 'hood, riding bikes up and down the street, shrieking in glee on their backyard trampoline. I didn't see my kids, but heard them. They must have been a bit older than they are now because I didn't have a sobbing two-year-old at the door begging to go out with the big kids. Maybe he was just napping. Who knows? Anyway...

Our next-door neighbours had a lot of kids, too. Four, maybe five. They wore dirty clothes, had unkempt hair, and never seemed to be supervised. I tried to get my kids to avoid playing with them, without actually forbidding it - because then I'd have to explain it, and my aversion wasn't something I could explain rationally. (My inner judgemental self apparently can't be kept at bay in dreams.)

We had just repaved our driveway and the cement was not fully dried (or is it cured?) yet. The neighbours turned on their lawn sprinkler and it was spraying over onto my fresh concrete. So I headed over to knock on the door and ask them to move it.

The door was opened by a woman that I somehow knew was not the mother. Behind her were two other women. Kids were playing and watching TV in the background. The house smelled faintly of dirt and urine. The women looked out of place, all put together with nice clothes, hair, and make-up in such a dirty house.

I don't remember how the conversation began - I don't think I ever asked about the sprinkler - but somehow we ended up with these women telling me that the woman who lived there was a single mother to these many children. They stopped over, found her not there and the children alone, and decided to stay and babysit. The children were very hungry, but the women could not find a single item of food in all the cupboards or the refrigerator. (It did occur to me, when I awoke, to wonder why none of these three well-dressed women headed out to the store for some food.)

All I can remember is thinking that I needed to find a way to feed these kids! My whole perspective on the family changed and my heart was filled with love for those dirty, little children and their absentee mother.

I woke up, recalling every detail of the dream. (It's interesting to note, here, that I have not had a dream that I can remember in several years.) Pondering the meaning of the dream, I asked God a few questions:

Is there someone in my life that I need to help?

Is it an actual neighbour on my new street?

Am I specifically supposed to be doing something to help a single mother (or more than one)?

Lord, who is my neighbour?!

The moment the question formed in my mind, I knew I had heard someone else ask the very same question...

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

~ Luke 10:25-37

I was reminded of my dream and inspired to share it after reading this post.

Now, I just need to figure out what to do, when to do it, and for whom.

Who is your neighbour? Does anyone come to mind that God is nudging you about?


  1. Praying that the Lord reveals to you what He may be speaking at this time.

    It is a good reminder to us all that we need to be more mindful of others.

  2. WOW! What a vivid dream! God is speaking to you and I will pray he gives you clarity.

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