“Good morning, neighbor!” I have heard myself say these exact words on more than one occasion recently. My husband and I established a routine during our COVID-19 lockdown of taking a walk through the neighborhood each morning. As we walk, we often see the same groups of people. One family has breakfast together on their screen-in porch. One group of walkers from the nearby retirement home pause to talk around the group of rocks along the bike path. There are plenty of dogs and owners, and often the same bike-riders ride by. We all seem to have developed our routines. I don’t know most of their names, but I see them every morning. My neighbors!

In this time of social distancing, of so many changed routines, how do we love our neighbors? Indeed, the very act of putting on my facemask before I walk each morning shows love for my neighbors. When I stop to talk, I give people space. Seems strange that these now-routine actions of separation would be sharing love.

Gone for now are the days of block parties, of stopping over for a cup of tea, of leaning over the fence to talk, of gathering closely.

So how can we share God’s love with our neighbors? I’ve heard about drive-by events for birthdays, graduations, even a baby shower. What a unique way to celebrate milestone events! I see lots of signs up on lawns, in windows. Thanks to essential workers. Black Lives Matter.  For awhile there were bears displayed on porches and in windows, for neighborhood kids to find on their walks. Sharing love!

We can still share the bounty of our gardens. A loaf of freshly baked bread. Some of us can sew a facemask. Others can rake or shovel. Small things, but they show God’s love!

I’ve recently been introduced to a website, neighboringmovement.org. Each Sunday, a new tip for good neighboring is posted. These are often simple things, like hanging out in your front yard, chatting with people as they walk by. Collecting trash as you walk. Listing businesses that are practicing good measures during COVID-19. Connecting on neighborhood social media platforms. Greeting people as you walk. Loving our neighbors!

I surprised a neighbor with a little packet of “treasures”, small bits of hand dyed fabric, some beads and silk embroidery thread. Things from my over-abundant stash. I had so much fun putting the package together and then hanging it on her door. Reminded me of making May baskets. These are the ways we can share God’s love.

What will you do?

Karen McElfish
Arlington District Lay Leader