During a winter that brought feet of snow to Northwest Connecticut, there were hip-deep drifts between our next door neighbors and us. Even now, with fresh snow falling, the slog to get from our porch to theirs is real and tangible.
The space between us is physically insurmountable. Winter snow has closed off the route from us to them. We could go months without seeing each other. Without speaking.
Honestly, even without the snow, sometimes the differences between us seem too big a gap. We have different interests; different schedules.
But over the years my husband and I keep saying yes. Yes, we will brave the high winds when your car is stuck on the side of our shared mountain. Yes, we will offer up our guest room when you call at midnight to say your house smells strangely of gasoline. Yes, we will check your basement for water each day you are away during a wet season. Yes, we will pull weeds with you. Yes, we will sit on the stone wall and talk on those gloriously warm fall days.
Mostly, I’ve loved these years of loving my neighbor by being present. But there have been times I wanted to say no to this second greatest command. Times I didn’t want to get out of bed and make up the guest room at midnight. Times when I want to be selfish with my time and energy. Times I’ve wondered if this loving your neighbor thing really mattered.
But then there was this act of kindness and connection.
Through the winter mounds and drifts, the neighbors reached across that snowy space between us. They created a path between their porch and ours where one didn’t exist.
There was no reason. We weren’t home when they did it. They finished clearing their driveway after the latest storm and turned their snow blower toward our house, making a way for us to be neighbors in this coldest of seasons. “Just in case one of us needs the other.”
It reminded me that being neighbors isn’t just a state of living in proximity, but is a relationship that must be nurtured. Sometimes, you become friends with the neighbors and, quickly, they aren’t neighbors at all. Often, it takes work to create and keep that connection where one isn’t naturally present. It takes months or years of intentional kindness to close the space between you and them.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 nlt
This is a guest post by Heather Fignar – Worthy Words & Work. For more neighboring tips for introverts, visit www.heatherfignar.com.