Love Thy Neighbor


In 2002 Christina Baldwin wrote The Seven Whispers: A Spiritual Practice for Times Like These. I wonder if she knew back then that this book would remain so keenly relevant more than 20 years later? This morning I woke up to a beautiful piece she recently shared about the sixth whisper: Love the Folks in Front of You. 

I’ve been feeling all the “d” words about the world lately: depressed, discouraged and distressed. Even as I avoid the news as much as possible, the headlines are unavoidable. The good news becomes overshadowed by the likes of Santos and Greene and a handful of bad cops. It’s a mad, mad world. So this morning’s post from Christina was like the relief one feels coming up for air. 

She got me thinking about my own neighborhood and how (mostly) we are all able to set our differences aside when any one of us is in need. Of course there are a few exceptions, but the scale is tipped well in the direction of kindness. 

Then I got to thinking about the friends I was about to connect with at Nisqually over our common love of wild places. They are my neighbors too. We have created a network of people who might never otherwise know one another if not for our morning walks. We check in with each other and share our wins and losses. We’re an unlikely bunch bound by friendship and companionship.

Christina says it all so much better than I can and I hope you’ll read her beautiful words. You can find them here. And you can read more of The Seven Whispers here. When the community is struggling I always know that she will offer some wisdom reaching out in a way that reminds of our connections to place and each other. So, yes, love the folks in front of you, but also love those who so graciously remind us to do so. 

As she quotes in her piece: 

Neighbor is not a geographic term, it’s a moral obligation”.

As I sit down to write this, Yoda is hounding me for another walk even though we just recently returned from our last one. Sunny skies affect him like they affect me: it’s time to get outside. I spent the morning with friends at Nisqually and now I was about to go for my fourth walk of the day. 

“You’re a lucky dog, Yoda” I say out loud as I leash him up. And off we go. Bonus walk. 

As we begin our trek onto the path of the “owl woods” I hear footsteps behind me and I turn to see a neighbor/friend that lives just across the street from the park. She says she saw me and wanted to show me where the owl was last spotted. We navigate a couple new-to-me paths through the woods and she guides me to the spot. No owl, but now I know precisely where to look. We finish our walk in the park and continue, taking a long loop through the neighborhood. 

We walk for nearly an hour. She shares what she knows about the people and dogs in the area. She knows the people and the history of this working class neighborhood and stories begin to pour out of her. We keep walking. We find the tall tree that the eagles have begun building their nest in and watch families of crows begin to make their way north toward the roost. 

A day that began with a reminder of what it is to be a good neighbor became a day filled with connection. Coincidence? Nah. More like serendipity. Maybe I’ll keep the news off for the rest of the night. I’m going to let these feelings of connectedness linger. Here are a few photos from my morning. A heron and hawk extravaganza!

13 Comments on “Love Thy Neighbor

  1. What a great story of connection. Nancy is right, you connect wherever you go. Finding common ground. Also, you go looking for connection. You’re a good one, my friend. (And how is that GBHs are so cool looking?)

    • Thanks for these words, G. It feels a lot like what Maezen says about attention. (what we give our attention to, thrives) I am always clear about what I wish to see thrive and grow. Connecting with people feels like a true labor of love. Thanks for being here.

  2. Dear Bonnie Rae, I am so honored to be nested among your beautiful words and birds. I count on you when I fall into the “d” words, and it’s good we can help each other… in a neighborly way. Was thinking of you when I was down on the beach today, hoping you’ll all come up to Whidbey sometime in the next few months. love, cb

    • I’m looking forward to an island adventure soon. When life gets busy it’s more important than ever to remember to check in with the people we care about. A visit sounds perfect and Yoda just gave a wag to say he is all in too!

  3. Oh Bonnie Rae, I am so touched by your post–every time! Your sincerity of vision and words is a gorgeous combination… and I count on you when I fall into the “d” words. Thank you, and please comment a sentence on my blog so I can easily link us. Hugs and feathers.

    • Christina, it means the world to me to have your ongoing support and attention. What I love most about you is that you’re able to pluck the gem out of a pile of stones. The “d” words are a poison and you come to us all with the perfect antidote. Thank you for your vision. Thank you for you 💕

  4. Neither coincidence nor serendipity Bonnie, you create neighborhoods wherever you go. People know you’re easy to talk to. Neighbors know you’ll love the owl, and that you’ll listen to their stories. And your bird neighbors, what can I say. They sit and wait for you methinks. You can manage the news the way you make sure you get out walking. Give it the attention it needs and deserves and then move on. Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.

      • Oh, Nancy. Thank you for seeing me and for sharing here. “Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry” is a brilliant thought that deserves a little extra consideration. I’m fortunate sometimes that I can slip into “postal Bonnie” mode, which is to say I find myself more willing and able to engage with people. Forever a beginner, I learn every day from the birds and from friends like you* Maybe Mary is right and there is hope after all.

    • Christina has a really wonderful way of highlighting the good. Thinking about how I am surrounded by people who would drop everything to help me is not something I often consider. Connections matter. And yes, I have hope too*

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