You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
In amongst the row of lavender bushes is one pretty dianthus plant, a member of the carnation family which is flowering well this year.
Unfortunately the rest of the dianthus plants along that row have died off so that it looks quite lonely where it is; in fact I had quite forgotten that it was there at all. But it is very attractive and as long as we give it some room to flourish and look after it I am sure it will be ok.
That little plant seems to illustrate the fate of too many people in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods nowadays. It is so easy to get lost in the crowds of people all rushing to get somewhere. It is also all too easy to forget those whose only friends are the flickering images on the TV screen; those who never leave the house and may not speak to a real live person from one week’s end to the next. The tendency for us all nowadays is to drive home from work, park the car on the driveway, go indoors, draw the curtains and switch on the TV. The result is that we never notice the twitch of the neighbour’s curtain opposite as they look out on the world of which they feel they have no part. How sad that they should feel that way. But what can we do about it? Or rather, what should we do about it?
The answer surely is that as with the dianthus we need to look after them. The second great Commandment instructs us to love our neighbour; but what does that mean in practical terms? I think it means that we need to remember that there are some things that are so much more important than the “stuff” of our material life. Things like family and friends, of course but also compassion and respect for others. So next time you park the car on the driveway have a look across the road give Mrs Smith a wave. Better still, make time to go across and have a chat because words are important.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years