Say Hello to Thy Neighbor

My apologies, Reader, for this being very late today; I’ve been wrapped up in a marathon reading of Vergil’s Aeneid, which is actually pretty darn cool (I got to read at one point, which totally indulged my secret delight in reading aloud).  Also, I’m presenting a paper that will be crap tomorrow, so I’m trying to work on it so it is less crap.  Hurrah, the life of the academic!

Also, this week has been nuts, and I mean, whoa.  So I was totally prepared to give you a book review (because I have SO MANY that I need to write), but God, as usual, had His own ideas.  *sigh*

So I left for the marathon reading this morning (no, it’s not over; I’m listening to a live stream at the moment and will go back later.  In my defense, I was there for the first six books) and noticed that, across the way, my neighbor’s door was open and maintenance folk were carrying things out.  It looked pretty empty—he has moved, it seems, and they were cleaning the place for whoever will move in next.

I’ve mentioned this neighbor before, but it’s not like we really knew each other well.  In fact, I never did learn his name.  We never had a lengthy conversation—we barely had a conversation that could be called such at all, really.  Even by my incredibly elastic terms, we were barely acquaintances.  Yet I noticed the emptiness of his apartment this morning, noticed the dust bunnies that moving coaxes out of their corners, noticed the flotsam and jetsam that the absence of a person’s stuff always leaves behind no matter how thoroughly the ending search is conducted.  I noticed that he was gone, and I wondered why, and I wondered whether he was happy about leaving, or whether he was going back home, wherever he considers that to be.

It’s funny, I’ve spent all day—am spending it still, via the miraculous oddities of the Internet—listening to the magnificently overarching story of the founding of (the founding of) Rome by the erstwhile leader Aeneas, pushed about by gods vengeful and loving, fickle and far-sighted.  Yet what I have on my mind is this nameless neighbor who made me dinner in gratitude, who lives a life of which I know nothing.  It’s not a we-are-all-God thing, but a we-are-all-God’s thing, a recognition not that my neighbor should indeed matter to me because we are mystically connected by the god-force both of us have found in our own ways but that God created us both and put us on the planet and we happened to live across from each other for a while.  What then?  I can’t say we would ever have been friends of any real sort—but he was part of my life for a while.  That matters.

I wish it didn’t.  Trust me on that—it sounds harsh, but I don’t like forming attachments to other people.  Go ahead, have a field day psychoanalyzing that if you wish, but I think most of us recognize that life is a lot easier if we don’t learn to miss people, if we don’t totally notice when someone leaves for their next adventure.  My world is much less stressful if people come in and out of my life like Aeneas, a character here for a day and rarely thought of after—and, as you can see by my weekend, I could use less stress.  Unfortunately, God didn’t take my need for less stress into account for human relations.  Jerk.

Because He created us to notice each other, right?  He noticed Adam shouldn’t be alone, so He created Eve, and it doesn’t matter if you think those were literal people or not.  We are told from the very foundations of Judaism and Christianity that people were created to be in community with others.  Philosophers from all ages have commented on the communal nature of homo sapiens, even those of us who are most definitely introverts.  It’s not that God never wanted us to have a minute to ourselves, but that God wanted us to understand that relationship with Him is only made stronger by realizing what relationship means in the full spectrum of recognition that others matter.  Would I want my neighbor to notice if I had left?  Maybe.  Or maybe it is enough for me to note that he has, to note that there was that connection to another person.  Maybe it is enough to have accepted that, in the sweeping epic my own life seems to be sometimes, it is important to say hello to my neighbor, and good-bye.

So hello, Reader.  We may not be right across from each other, but I’m honored you have noticed me here, and that we have made this fleeting connection.  May you have the peace of the moments of just you and God, but also the understanding of your own Adams and Eves who happen to wave as they weave in and out of your day.


…the LORD God formed the human from the topsoil of the fertile land and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life…Then the LORD God said, “It’s not good that the human is alone. I will make him a helper that is perfect for him.”  So the LORD God formed from the fertile land all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky and brought them to the human to see what he would name them. The human gave each living being its name.  The human named all the livestock, all the birds in the sky, and all the wild animals. But a helper perfect for him was nowhere to be found.  So the LORD God put the human into a deep and heavy sleep, and took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh over it.  With the rib taken from the human, the LORD God fashioned a woman and brought her to the human being.  (Genesis 2:7, 18-22, CEB)

One thought on “Say Hello to Thy Neighbor

  1. Sheila Bigelow says:

    Hello to you, too, Pilgrim. :-)



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