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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dog Poop Matters

"The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Paul of Tarsus (Romans 13:9)

There has been a huge push in recent years for American Evangelicals to expand their circle of neighbors (and rightly so) to view others especially those who are oppressed, poor, hungry, imprisoned, etc. And this expansion is not meant for lip service which most "Christians" typically give, but to love those neighbors through a number of means and systems.

And what is so typical for me is that I lose sight of the trees for the forest (yes, I meant to say it that way). I begin to look at all of those neighbors "out there" in the inner city, homeless shelters, food pantries, and the third world and miss my real flesh and blood neighbor.

But this single mom of four who works full-time that lives right next door to me is someone I need to love. And it's hard.

Why? Because her dogs crap in my yard. I know, get over it, Seth. That's petty.

In all honesty that's no big deal even for those who know me and my "pickiness" about my yard. What gets at me is that she doesn't bother to pick it up. She leaves it for me to clean up. And that bugs the snot out of me.

Neighbors don't do that to each other! For the most part, most neighbors get that pets will poop in other peoples yard, but know and trust their neighbor to pick it up. It's how we live in community. But not my neighbor.

Here's my struggle: how should I love her? Tell her about in a tactful manner? Pick it up for her not saying a word to her knowing that this might happen to future neighbors? Pick it up for her and place it on her front porch with a note that reads "Just wanted to pick this crap up for you to show you God's love - no strings attached!"? Pick it up and chuck it into her yard hoping that one of her 4 little girls step in it?

You know, this is the kind of rubber-meets-the-road spirituality that Jesus and the writers of the Bible were talking about when they invited and commanded followers of the Way to love your neighbor as yourself. I wonder if they knew something else: if we could love our real, physical neighbor that we would have a deeper understanding and greater capacity for loving our other neighbors out there that live in our city, nation and world.

Dogs pooping in our yards really matters. Why? Because my neighbor matters and so does yours.

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