Living Together

Living Together
   This is a great time of the year with folks out and about enjoying our surroundings. We see people we might not have seen over the winter, and we meet those new to our community.
   It is also a time of awareness as our interactions with one another are more on display. Words spoken in the privacy of our homes can now be heard through open windows, and our actions take place not just behind closed doors but in public spaces like porches, decks, yards, sidewalks, and parks.
   I hope that all our interactions will be like one I had recently while outside with my dog, Truffles. It was late, and I watched to see who was approaching with a cart that was clattering over the sidewalk. The man was still in the shadows when he said hello and told me his name. I responded from my porch where I stood, illuminated by our light. He went on to tell me that we had met when both of us had been visitors at his brother’s church. What a gift to be able to reconnect, even briefly, as family, two people created by our amazing God.
   I must confess that I never saw this man’s face as he stood in the shadows. I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids, so I didn’t understand when he told me his name, but I was blessed by his willingness to speak up that night, and I hope he was also.
   Conversation isn’t always easy, and I am lucky to have a hidden conversation starter in Truffles. Kids often come calling his name, and he loves to be petted. When he looks at them with his big, “chocolate drop” eyes, they can tell how special he thinks they are. None of the kids and few of their parents use my name, but most remember Truffles and his mom! We love it!
   You and I often get preoccupied by our needs and agendas, and we forget to look for ways to interact with others and make their day better. Our job is to share God’s love. If we would stop making such a “big deal” out of it and just look for small ways to do that all the time, then the big things might just take care of themselves.
   Begin by looking for the best in your family and those in your neighborhood. A “hello” with a smile is always a good way to start. Yesterday, a person at the grocery store moved out of the center of the aisle, so I could get by with my cart. As I went, I automatically whispered thank you. He turned with a smile and said, “You are most welcome.” When have gestures of goodwill and caring become something that people are surprised to receive? Soon you might more easily see good in strangers.
   Next, remember the good. The Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance honored four unsung heroes recently. Many groups and schools also give awards. We have many wonderful people taking care of each other every day. And when the bad haunts us, it is important to forgive the people involved, so we can move on.
   Finally, use every opportunity you get to celebrate. Life is short. Celebrate your achievements and the achievements of others. Do not be envious of what others accomplish. A win for one who is part of the family of God is a win for us all. Quit quibbling over the details and love God, and love your neighbor. The rest will take care of itself.
   May God’s Spirit inspire us all to live together well!
-Rev. Gwen Bernstine Serves as Pastor of Lycoming Presbyterian Church, Williamsport