Walking Our Faith: Being neighborly (The Good Neighbor Project) | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: Being neighborly (The Good Neighbor Project)

Suzanne Anderson
Walking Our Faith

Last Saturday, two hours before I was due to begin a talk and book signing at the Next Page bookstore in Frisco, I sat in my living room, crying.

It had been a difficult week for me. On Wednesday, I'd had a disagreement with a friend. On Thursday, I had a car accident involving a moose and wasn't certain my insurance would cover the damages. Then I learned the books I'd ordered for the book signing had gotten lost in transit.

By Saturday morning, I was certain no one would come to the book signing. As it turned out, I was wrong — about everything — thanks to the kindness of people I love dearly as well as complete strangers.

The publisher sent replacement books by overnight mail, so they would arrive in time. Over the course of five days and many, many phone calls, my insurance company informed me that my claim would be honored, and my friend and I are talking through our differences.

What if this winter was the start of a countywide Good Neighbor Project? God will do amazing things with our smallest acts of kindness. What if Summit County became the kindest place on Earth?

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About 30 people turned out, and I was thrilled to meet people who had come from as far as Evergreen, just because they read the column every week. It was an honor to meet new friends who had come so far. And there were the friends from Breckenridge who came: Maggie brought freshly baked cookies, Pat instigated the event and women from our knitting group came to cheer me on. Lisa and Karen of Next Page Books & Nosh demonstrated why an Indie-bookstore is a vital heart of our community. I am so grateful. Thank you.

But in between the weeklong downfall and recovery there was my friend, Pat Hoogheem, who stopped by each day to sit with me, have a glass of wine and knit. Conversation was sparse, but it was her presence that gave me a sense of stability when I felt knocked off kilter. The Reverend Charlie Brumbaugh, of St. John the Episcopal Church, describes this as a mid-western trait called "being neighborly," the gift of being present during another person's difficulty.

Jesus told his disciples a parable about what it means to be a good neighbor. A man was traveling on a road when he was attacked, robbed, beaten and left by the side of the road to die. Two people passed him without stopping. Then, "a Samaritan (a stranger/foreigner) came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' Jesus asked, 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' They replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:30-37).

Being a good neighbor takes many forms. It is sitting with someone who is hurting, words not necessary. It is the stranger on the other end of the phone who brings compassion and patience to their job. As Jesus described, it is selflessly acting, whether a friend or a complete stranger.

The Good Neighbor Project

You may remember that for Lent this year I knitted a simple scarf each week and gave it away by leaving it at a bus station, library or bench around Summit County, with a note that said, "If you're cold, take me, I'm yours."

Well, I've been knitting scarves all summer with a goal to give away a scarf a week from the first snowfall through the last snowfall. If the Farmer's Almanac is right, that might be a lot of scarves. I could use your help … If you're a fellow knitter, or Girl or Boy Scout, or student in search of a service project, join me in this endeavor.

The scarves are simple, 8 inches by 36 inches, knit or stockinette stitch. The only materials needed are knitting needles and yarn, which is available at Wal-Mart. If you want more information, contact me at henryandgeorgepress@gmail.com If you're looking for a bigger project, the Prayer Shawl knitters meet every Wednesday at Next Page from 1–3 p.m.

We have many churches around Summit County that need volunteers. For instance, in October I start my fourth season on a team that cooks and serves the Tuesday Night Community dinner at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church.

If your church has volunteer opportunities and you're looking for extra hands, send me an email at henryandgeorgepress@gmail.com and I'll post it here.

What if this winter was the start of a countywide Good Neighbor Project? God will do amazing things with our smallest acts of kindness. What if Summit County became the kindest place on Earth?

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson lives in Breckenridge.