If you've ever cast a shadow inside a Sunday school classroom you have likely been exposed to Matthew 22:39 - Love thy neighbor as thyself. And like many things in the Bible, that command is more of a challenge to carry out than one might suspect.
While performing a bit of research in preparation for today's column I came across a quote by Mother Teresa that dovetails perfectly with the Matthew verse - I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?
As a long-standing resident of the Hannibal "hood," I can confess that I am acquainted with some neighbors far better than others. There are some who don't even seem interested in making eye contact. Some receive a head nod. Just above that on the scale of greetings is the wave where the hand goes no higher than shoulder level. Next is the wave in which the arm is fully extended. Beyond that are the neighbors one will stop and converse with about topics such as the weather and where the latest drug bust was. Finally, there are the select few neighbors you will tell when you are going to be out of town overnight.
By and large I would say I have good neighbors. Whether they would say the same about me under oath is another matter.
It's been said that a bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing. A Chinese proverb puts it this way: A good neighbor is a priceless treasure.
I am blessed to have great next-door neighbors, which is an important fact considering that our residences are so close to one another that when someone next door sneezes I feel compelled to say "gesundheit."
Last weekend they advised us they would be watching grand kids, so not to be alarmed if we heard yelling, screaming or a gunshot.
Not every neighbor is as lucky as I am when it comes to their neighbors. Consider the following:
"My neighbors liked my music so much that when I turned it up they invited the police over to listen."
"My neighbor knocked on my door this morning at 2:30 a.m. Lucky for him I was still up playing my drums."
Neighbors are not limited to drum sets and stereo systems when it comes to noise-making instruments, as I learned recently.
On a rainy weeknight I was awakened by a loud "whack."
Leaning up in bed, my still sleep-filled eyes focused on the digital clock next to my bed. It read 3:26 a.m.
Laying back in bed I listened as the whacking not only continued, but seemed to be increasing with frequency.
Now more awake than asleep, I found myself wondering from where the hammering sound was originating.
Initially, it sounded like the sound was coming from the home of my next-door neighbors, where a new porch and stairs had recently been added. But it was hard to believe they would be undertaking another home improvement project in the wee hours of a rainy morning.
Rolling out of bed, I went into the front room from where I could gain a better view of the "hood."
Peeking through the blinds I immediately spotted the source of the sound. Four houses east of mine workers had been putting a new roof on a garage earlier in the week. Now a vehicle had been parked in such a way that its headlights shined on the roof while someone appeared to be securing a tarp as a light rain fell.
What should I do? A good neighbor would have gotten dressed, walked over and offered to help. A bad neighbor would have gotten dressed, walked over and demanded the cease the racket, a potentially dangerous thing to do in the "hood" at 3:30 in the morning.
I pursued a middle-ground approach to neighborliness. Slipping back into bed, I wished my neighbors success in their task so that the hammering would cease sooner than later.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.