Love thy neighbor

Breanna Cannon

Connecting Faith and Life

Before we moved to our current home, we lived in Indianapolis on a corner lot beside two city streets. We were very blessed to have lovely neighbors who were there to lend a helping hand when needed. One set of those neighbors will always have a special place in my heart.

One Sunday morning in Spring 2022, I was looking out our son's first-floor-nursery window. One of the streets beside us was lined with parked cars and happy-faced people. The young boy across the street was graduating from high school. It was a great time for his parents, Paul and Rebecca, and a joy for my husband and me to see this young boy, whom we had watched across front yards, go off to college.

I was in the nursery again about four days later. Our street was lined with the same cars from that Sunday party. Our neighbors’ front yard was filled with dozens of young people. We very quickly learned our neighbors’ son had been in an accident and was killed. All of the students in the front yard were together in prayer, mourning and rejoicing the life lived by a faithful young man.

In one week, we witnessed our neighbors celebrate one of life's highs and acknowledge one of life's deepest pains. Amid all of that, in our conversations with Paul and Rebecca in those coming weeks, we were amazed by their faith. They knew God's plan was much greater than anything they could give their son as parents. Their total trust inspired and encouraged my husband and me. We have since moved; but truly, every day, I am strengthened by their witness of faith. It is a bond that I will hold close to my heart for life.

In Romans 13, St. Paul wrote, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence love is the fulfillment of the law."

Neighbors are unique and hold a special place in the journey to sainthood and heaven. We are each commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations. Jesus commanded us to love God and then love our neighbor. Our call to discipleship starts with those closest to us. Neighbors can be people living next door, down the street or across the field. Regardless of the physical space between, a neighbor is a treasured companion on the greatest journey.

When we moved to Southern Indiana, we naturally acquired new neighbors. We share a fence row with Gary and Kay, and often find ourselves leaning over the fence in conversation. Some of the greatest conversations of life and faith have happened over that horse fence. Shortly after we moved in, Gary and Kay were over at our home. We stood in our kitchen where Gary made a quick observation; painted on a piece of wood a sign about an entryway read, "God is Love." With a shake in his voice, Gary glanced up at the sign and spoke, "There is nothing truer."

Since our very first encounters with Gary and Kay, I have seen God's hand at work to bring us together. The love of neighbor has been a blessing to our family.

As I reflect on our current and past neighbors, I'm reminded of just how important it is to be bold and courageous in sharing the faith. It was our neighbors in Indianapolis who inspired us in their witness of faith – and our current neighbors bless us daily with their friendship. Loving thy neighbor starts with loving God and is then extended to others. Praying for a neighbor is a great place to start in building a relationship. If a relationship starts by inviting God in, miracles can happen and the roots of friendship will grow deep. Take some time this summer when neighbors are out to strike up a conversation or simply pause and say a prayer for them.

"If we wish to serve God and love our neighbor well, we must manifest our joy in the service we render to Him and them. Let us open wide our hearts. It is joy which invites us. Press forward and fear nothing" (St. Katharine Drexel).