I’ve been reading about hermits lately. First, I read about about the Maine hermit, now, about a Trappist Monk (which is not technically a hermit). It seems entirely unnatural to exist totally alone. Neighborless.
We’re meant to be and to have neighbors. Good neighbors.
It always strikes me that in the gospels a man responds to Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves with the probing question – “But who is my neighbor?” If there’s something natural about being neighbors, there’s something equally natural about not wanting to be neighbors to just anybody.
I love Jesus’ response: the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were not well-liked, respected or welcomed by Jewish people. Jesus blew open the doors on who are neighbors are, and how much their love costs them. Later, he says even sinners love those who love them, suggesting that we love people who aren’t loving us back.
To be a neighbor is to love those who won’t or can’t return the favor. To be a neighbor is to self-sacrifice. And sometimes we have to leave the comforts of our neighborhoods to really practice being a neighbor.