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Adams: Thoughts on loving my neighbor

Posted: July 22, 2017 - 11:34pm

This story may sound un-Christian of me, so I begin it by assuring you that I love my neighbor. At the same time, I confess that people in general frustrate me.

Most of the commonsense God granted his creation was squandered by His most intelligent creatures long before we came out of the cave into suburbia. As a whole, we're all just so stupid.

But when it comes down to dealing with humanity one individual at a time, I understand that each has his or her unique struggle.

I value each person's complex, often compelling, story. This does not mean, however, that I necessarily want to hear the story, nor do I feel obligated to listen.

Nonetheless, let the record show that I love my neighbor. Don't hold it against me if I don't want to engage him or her from the pew. There my mind rests on higher things.

Every Sunday, our church ritual begins with a welcome, announcements and finally a behest for those of us in the congregation to stand and greet our neighbor, which, for reasons that only I and a few like-minded parishioners appreciate, I silently resist.

I move slowly in response to the command, hoping for a spontaneous mass sit-in.

Herd capitulation pressures me into putting on a smile and extending my hand to those in front of, next to and behind me. They accept my feigned sincerity with the gift of forgiveness.

I have learned that if I precisely time my arrival to church, I can get to my seat after the abhorrent greet-your-neighbor episode but before the first notes of the opening hymn prompt the pastor's procession. Technically, I'm not late.

As our priest is not a precise fellow, though, this window is a tough target to routinely hit. Sometimes it requires foot-dragging in the parking lot.

Two Sundays ago, my 19-year-old son drove my husband and me to church. He cleared a six-inch space on the backseat of his truck for me, where I perched next to a box that extracted the base from the music blaring from the speakers and inserted it into my chest cavity within a hair of my heart.

"Can you turn down the radio?" I shouted at the back of my son's head. "My aorta is about to rupture. You'll have blood spatter all over your windshield."

His head nodded to the beat of the music. Looking in the rearview mirror, he saw my lips moving and paused his jam to ask, "What?"

"The music! Can you turn it down? My chest is going to explode! How can you stand this?" We verbally wrestled, atop the slightly diminished volume, over the subject of the decimation, by the base-extracting box, of his hearing and his heart muscle.

The other problem with riding with my son to church is that I have no control over what time we get there. He drives much faster than I. "Ugh," I gasped when we pulled into the parking lot.

"What?" he and my husband answered in unison.

"We're early. If we go in now, we'll have to greet our neighbor. I don't want to greet my neighbor." In response to their chiding my lack of Christian compassion, I explained to them, as I have done for you, my thoughts on my neighbor, whom I love.

My son, an empathetic sort, offered, "We can sit out here and listen to the radio for a few minutes." With that he dialed the volume a little louder.

Stuck between two tortures, I chose to be a good Christian: "I'd rather go greet my neighbor. This thumping makes me feel like hurting someone."

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books. She lives in Thomson, Ga. Email Lucy at lucyadams.writer@gmail.com.

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