Be A Good Neighbor

By on May 25, 2018

good neighbor bannerLife (God?) sometimes hits you over the head with a message. You may need to hear it more than once. (For me, it was the third time that was the charm.) This week the message was loud and clear: Be a good neighbor.

Living in such a close-knit community, you might think that was a given. It’s not. Verona is a great town, but we could all use the reminder to be a good neighbor. And I’m not just talking about the people who live next door…we need to be good neighbors to our entire community and beyond. In this fast paced and extremely crazy world we live in (maybe even struggle to survive it), being a good neighbor is key to not only to our survival (both physical and mental) but sets a much needed example to all.

The reminder to be a good neighbor came to me first on Sunday morning. In addition to being Pentecost, it was Confirmation Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church. The service was mostly run by the four confirmands, of which my son was one. He was the “MC/Game Show Host” for the children’s message: “Best Neighbor Ever.” It was an updated version of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which many of us know. Unsuspecting innocent gets beaten, robbed and left for dead in the road (or in this case the aisle of the sanctuary). First person walks by and ignores her. Host asked the congregation if she is the best neighbor ever. Congregation answers No. Second person walks by, says “I’ll pray for you” and continues on. Host asks if this is the best neighbor ever. Once again the congregation yells out No. Third and final “contestant” comes in and helps the “innocent” up, bandages her arm and gives her a few dollars. When the host asks if this is the best neighbor ever, the congregation applauds and yells out “YES!” (Of course there was a little prompting in the form of cue cards, but…) A funny sketch expertly performed (she said proudly) by the confirmands (with some help) that taught the children and reminded the adults what it means to be a good neighbor.

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My second reminder to be a good neighbor came in the form of a Facebook birthday reminder the next day. The reminder was for an amazing friend and truly the Best Neighbor EVER, who is sadly no longer with us, Mary Renzulli. If Mary had been a contestant on “Best Neighbor Ever” there is no doubt she would have not only won, but would have nurtured and taught the other contestants to be their best, too. The best way I can honor Mary (and not just on her birthday) is to be a good neighbor. To treat all the same way she did, with caring, compassion, and respect. (And, if possible, with some good home cooking!)

My final reminder happened today when I was out walking. As I was on the final leg of my walk (and how happy am I that it is FINALLY warm enough and light enough in the morning for me to trek all over town) I passed by the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit. On its front lawn was a sign was in multiple languages. It reads, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” Seeing it in the early morning light, it made ME feel good. It made ME feel welcome. It was the final “sign” that made me realize that not only should I be a good neighbor, but I should write and encourage others to be good neighbors, too.

Friends, neighbors, residents of Verona: We live in a wonderful, small town. (Small enough that you can walk from one end to the other…I’ve done it!) Verona has survived and thrived since before its inception because the people of the community have been good neighbors. We need to continue to be a community that helps each other, even though we may not agree with each other. We need to continue to be the town that lifts those up who are down and supports those who need help, even if they are faces that are not known to us. We need to be the place where everyone can speak freely and be respectfully listened to. We need to continue to be the caring place that is willing to act when action is called for and to not be afraid to do so.

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Verona IS a town of good neighbors. We always have been and we always can be. Just look around and see.

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For five years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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