By REV. WAYNE WALDER
NEIGHBOURHOOD UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION
Two months ago, my partner Joan and I were walking on the beach, just after sunset. We noticed one of the largest electrical storms we have ever seen…taking place on the other side of the lake. It must have stretched from Hamilton through the east side of Buffalo.
Rolling lightning, jagged bolts from the clouds to the earth, the sky was lighting up almost to the beach we were walking on. It was a magnificent sight.
Many times on that walk I said to myself, “Thank goodness that electrical storm is going on.. on.. the other side of the lake.”
I think it is a natural thing to feel.
Our self-preservation instinct keeps us on our side of the lake, on our side of the argument, on our side of the ego.
In COVID times, self-preservation keeps us on the other side of the street.
We fear others and the problems they can cause. This means we are often a little suspicious of our neighbour.
We all know “neighbours” can be a problem. Local and world events remind us of this every day.
At the same time as we are wary of our neighbours, we also understand the faith statement: “Love thy neighbour.”
It is a faith statement because there is no certainty. Having faith that our neighbours will love us, or we them, is scary for many reasons.
Yet neighbourly love, even if scary, helps us feel safe in our communities, helps us work together, and sets a stage for creativity and sharing. Loving thy neighbour, helps us build the beloved community.
Nothing proves loving. It is the psychological “Turing Test.”
This is why we need to have faith in our ability to love.
Generosity relies on this faith in love, so does kindness and compassion.
When we use these loving skills, it allows us to find common ground, inside ourselves as well as with others.
Sometimes we try to love our neighbour hoping we will be loved back.
Of course, “give and take” is business, not love. Measuring how much love we received from others, as the reason for how much we should give back, has never been love.
Maybe the easiest way to use our faith in love, begins with acknowledging our foibles, and accepting our foolishness.
Then when we look at others and also see foolishness and foibles, we know they are no different.
This helps us open up to the ideas of all mystics, like Jesus, Rumi, Mother Theresa, and Martin Luther King.
They said that loving others, including loving ourselves, was the way to change the world.
In our country and world, fraught with conflict and despair, loving our neighbour does not need to be dramatic.
It can start in tiny doses, letting someone into traffic, holding a door, offering your place, saying hello and meaning it. You will know what to do.
If we want our Canada to be kind, to be a compassionate place to live for the next generation, the next 50 years, is there any other way than the tough, spiritual practice of to love our neighbour?
There is no time like the present to get started.
For more information on the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, please visit us online at www.nuuc.ca
— Rev. Wayne Walder has been the minister for the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, located at 79 Hiawatha Rd., for the past 23 years.