The Golden Rule
I write this early on Wednesday afternoon. The snow has stopped now – it’s been utterly beautiful in our cul-de-sac, with pristine white snow piled on every tree branch like icing on a spider’s web. This morning, Maggie and I went out to clear off the cars and start to shovel out the driveway. Our neighbor Mark was zipping through his own driveway with his big New-Hampshire-grade snowblower. Soon he was on his way over to our driveway to zip through that…and so we traveled together for the next hour, clearing older neighbors’ cars, shoveling walks, and watching the amazing machine dispatch the snow from driveways. It was actually fun!
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” That’s in today’s Gospel, and it’s probably the most universal imperative of all, found in all the world’s great religions in some form or another. I thought of our neighbor Mark, who walks with a limp from some surgery years ago, but freely offered himself and his wonderful snowblower to us and our neighbors. Storms can bring out the best in neighborhoods. We are reminded of the true joy of living among good people.
Jesus’ other exhortations – “Love your enemies, pray for those who abuse you…” – these are harder to accept and practice. But almost everybody sees the wisdom in the Golden Rule. This Rule is stated in functional terms, but there is an underlying value here, and that is love. Love is what makes us care about our neighbor – her needs, his hopes and dreams, her comfort and safety. When we want the best for someone else, that’s love.
A pleasant snow-day at home is a lovely, unexpected gift. But the greatest gift of this day is the love experienced among neighbors helping each other shovel out. We could use more occasions like this…bring on the snowstorms! JBM