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TRYING TO LOVE A TURTLE “...So he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when…”

- Luke 10:29-30

I live in a neighborhood of nice but private people. They have their jobs, families, routines, and do not necessarily need to add me to the equation. But I am making some inroads. I walk the shaded streets for exercise, and regularly work in the yard, and stay alert for opportunities to speak and be friendly with whoever may cross my path. Yesterday I met Bo, the big and black and thankfully friendly rottweiler of the previously-never-met lady who lives around the corner. Bo growled, but with her assurance that he was very friendly, I held out my hand for him to sniff. With that he became a big puppy and all was well. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was all it took for everybody we would meet! She told me that her dog was not doing well, he was a senior citizen and likely did not have much more time. I told her about Cassie, how fresh was the experience and how sad I continue to be about saying goodbye. We connected well, I think. I believe this lady has a kind heart. And, to think that I may have never known her except for this “chance” meeting! A project of mine involves 2 ladies who walk by the house on late afternoons. They talk loudly to one another. The other day I said hi and smiled, standing maybe 10 feet away. They said nothing, did not acknowledge, never even looked my way. It was a bit disconcerting, and I made a mental note to try again another day. Well, the other day a friend was visiting with us, and her little yappy dog started following these ladies down the street. My friend was yelling at her dog to stop and trying to chase him down as he trailed behind the walkers. So it seems the nice thing to do would be to stop for a moment, acknowledge the chase, and therefore let the frantic woman catch her dog? Not these ladies. They never even acknowledged the matter, never even glanced at the unfolding challenge. So these folks are going to be a tough nut to crack. Why do they not speak? Why no interest in eye contact, no interest to acknowledge another person? And likely it has absolutely nothing to do with me personally?

For the last week we have had a neighborhood turtle. She showed up in my backyard a few years ago, layed eggs, and disappeared. But now she is back. Sunday she was in my yard, again. Yesterday she was a block away saying hi to a woman strolling down the street. And this morning she was out in the middle of the road. I could not just leave her there. So I stopped with the intent of placing her safely somewhere in the woods. Apparently she thought I was trying to hurt her. So she ambled, rather quickly for a turtle, under my car. Well it was not easy to reach her, because a turtle can bite and she was willing. Finally I had her in my hands. She did not smell good. I took her about 100 feet into the woods and set her down. She crawled away. And I am thinking maybe there was a little gratitude in her heart? I guess neighbors can be like turtles.

God puts people in your life for a reason. You can be a better person, and you can make life a better experience, if you will make an intentional and ongoing effort to show them some love. You cannot get it all done at once. It takes time. Some people are like my neighborhood turtle, curious and slow and not necessarily responding as you would like. But turtles need you. So do neighbors.

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