Love Your Neighbor Week
Hear from our intern Jaslyn Richardson as she talks about what Loving Your Neighbor means to her.
"Loving Your Neighbor"
“ What does that really mean?” I immediately thought.
This week at Urban Avenues, we wanted to change things up a bit. With everything that has been going on in the world with COVID, we thought it would be a great time to spread some love. This week is important because - let’s be honest - this past year has been one of the more isolating and polarizing for our country. We’re home more; which means we’ve probably seen our proximate neighbors more in the past year than ever before.In the past year, COVID has shaken my previous concept of community, forcing me to redefine what a neighbor is, how to love my neighbors, and how I can be a better one. In this, I’ve learned how to be more present where my feet are planted, more appreciative of the people around me, and more attuned to the needs of my neighbors.
Finding new ways to love my neighbor begs the question - who is my neighbor? Surely the concept goes so far beyond the person that lives next door to me. It is rooted in connections, relationships,the people that we see and interact with everyday.
Even the dictionary talks about crucial it is to love your neighbor; the dictionary defines neighbor as , “a person living near or next door to the speaker or person referred to, a person or place in relation to others near or next to it, or any person in need of one’s help or kindness.”
So, how can I be a neighbor?
To be a neighbor is to make the choice to put anything that makes you different aside, to love each other and the differences that make you unique, and to show up and be there for each other.
I am realizing that “loving your neighbor” goes far beyond the person next door to you. It’s not even about who's right next to us or even who we pass by everyday. It's about our willingness to love and put others first; our willingness to be a neighbor first no matter how different we are from each other, or the different backgrounds we come from. I think that Mr. Rogers said it best:
“love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
It appears that Mr. Rogers was telling us to “love your neighbor as yourself”.
We need to look up.
By shifting our gaze toward others, we have more opportunities to ask, “how can I help?” It may look like checking in with the people in your life and truly seeing how they’re doing. Perhaps it involves finding unique ways to connect with people deeper (beyond Zoom). Or loving your neighbor could be addressing the needs in your community - like the local restaurant that is struggling from the pandemic.
When we decide to get to know the people around us we can develop deeper and long-lasting relationships.
After all, we’re all in this together.