This last week I moved our motorhome out of the backyard of our Sierra Vista home for the very last time. I’m ecstatic! Technically our house had an RV gate, but the reality was that it was barely wide enough. I had to approach the gate through our side-yard while scraping bushes on either side of the motorhome. Our side-yard was sloped, so there was always the risk of hitting the top of our house if I positioned the motorhome wrong. The gate was so tight that I had to pull both mirrors in to the side of the motorhome, and literally only had a couple of inches on either side of the motorhome to spare. Once I committed my entry through the gate there was no way for me to get out of the motorhome to check my progress. I came to hate moving the motorhome through the gate!
Last summer I had my worst incident with the dreaded gate. I was getting the motorhome ready for our trip to Alaska. As I went through the gate I caught a windowsill on the gate. It never even occurred to me that this was possible! The windowsill was being ripped off of the motorhome. My first clue that I had a problem was when I heard a sound that wasn’t right. Luckily, I was smart enough (not always the case!) to stop and back up. This incident helped to fill me with anxiety every time I had to take our motorhome through the gate.
I was both grateful that this was my last motorhome trip through the gate, and concerned that this might be the time that I did major damage. For some reason, I always seem to be alone when I’m moving the motorhome. As I approached the critical moment of being fully committed with my position in the gate, our neighbor from across the street appeared in front of me. He asked “Where do you need me?” Since I couldn’t get out of the motorhome, I started asking him questions about my position. It turns out that I was too close to the house, and probably would have hit it. He had me back up, and center the motorhome better. The rest went smooth!
I so appreciated that my neighbor noticed what I was doing and took the time to offer his help. The truth is that it only took about five minutes, but if I had hit the house, it would have caused all kinds of problems! Part of what I know about myself is that I don’t always notice what is happening around me. A good question to ask ourselves is: “How am I loving my neighbors”? Do we even notice what is happening in their lives? Are we the kind of neighbors who are quick to offer our help? If we are feeling especially brave, we might want to ask Jesus “Who is my neighbor”? There is a precedent for this question to be followed by a parable.
While I was moving the motorhome my wife was at the city office canceling our garbage service. When she returned with our pickup truck, we needed to load some big pots with plants in them. That night there was a freeze warning, and we wanted to hurry and get them to our new house. Most of them were not a problem, but a couple of the pots were large and heavy. My wife has a bad shoulder and I managed to strain my back. One of our blessings is that we had another neighbor in Sierra Vista who likes to work out. He converted his garage into a gym, and often would be working out with some of his friends. That is what was happening that afternoon. When we asked if he could help us lift these plants, he came right away. I helped to lift them, but my help wasn’t really needed. He could have lifted both the pot and me without any problem!
As we progress through this Advent/Christmas season, I encourage each of us to be sensitive to what is happening in the lives of our neighbors. Is there something that we can do to help? Is there hope that we can offer? Is there someone who is alone that we can invite over? Are there people who are struggling that we can ease their load? As we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is also a good time to review the lessons that Jesus has taught us for living our lives, and loving other people.
Your brother on the journey, Mark