As we embrace inner peace as a way of life, we naturally seek to love our neighbour. Sometimes it happens in the most unexpected of ways!
I spotted the brown and yellow garbage truck rumbling in the distance. Yikes! Thursday morning – time to get the garbage out! I hiked back to the house, grabbed two blue containers and ran to the curb. Whew! The truck was two doors down so I waited, thinking I would save myself the extra trip back to the curb. When he pulled up, I said, “Hey, I saw you coming so I thought I’d wait for you.” A tall young man with dark hair smiled back at me, his tightly shaved beard neatly trimmed. “You’d be amazed at how rare that is!”
“Really?” I was instantly curious, leaving him space to say more.
“Yes. Most people won’t even look at me. They stand back from the curb and turn away.” I was impressed by his candour and surprisingly non-judgmental attitude. “I don’t know what it is – if they think I’m stupid or some kind of crazy person for doing this job…” His voice trailed off.
I empathized. “I’m really sorry to hear that. We seem to live in a world where people seem to want to keep to themselves. Even here where I live, (pointing to my rural surroundings), some people want nothing to with their neighbours. I grew up on a farm and it was totally different. People needed each other. I guess that’s gone away,” I said wistfully.
He swung the last container into the truck, “We still need each other.” How true I thought, as he continued. “I have even had people stand right next to me, just like you are and make no eye contact.” I marveled at the warm smile he kept wearing.
Suddenly he paused, his mind awhirl. “Maybe it’s because this is a larger community. I live in the next small town and there, everyone waves to each other. On the court where I live, we have barbeques and people are friendly.”
“It does seem to make a difference,” I replied. “I once worked with a man in Toronto who complained that his neighbour kept trying to chat with him and how annoyed he was by that. Sad.”
We parted and something inside me swelled – a puff of pride that I had been one of the friendly ones. O God forgive me. While I strive to love and accept all who cross my path, in no way was it my intention to befriend the garbage man. Instead, by your grace alone, I hope he felt your love, for on my own strength I can do nothing.