The 3:00 a.m. alarm jolted awake the sleeping residents of my mother’s nursing home. It also woke up the neighbors. They poured out of their homes with their own blankets and coats. They helped the elderly and infirm down the stairs and outside, no small task given the number who used walkers or wheelchairs. The neighbors helped the seniors onto city transit buses to keep warm, and Red Cross volunteers distributed care packages. One kind man stood with his hand on my mother’s chair, ready to help should she need it.
But what of her two cats? People first of course, but then what of her pets? Then came the radio bulletin: a firefighter was chasing a cat on one of the upper floors! Soon they emerged—two burly firefighters, each holding a most unimpressed feline. One firefighter has more than enough strength to carry a person, but two traumatized kitties is obviously another story.
We still marvel. All the residents, staff and pets were saved. The building was not.
As their grandma, I hope that Tommy and Tina will grow up to be like those kind neighbors, racing to help others in need at even the most inconvenient times. I also hope they will be empathetic, ready to listen and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. But I hope they will never, ever understand how someone could start a fire in a nursing home.
Jesus tells of a man who was beaten and robbed, left to die by a priest and a temple worker, and then cared for by a despised foreigner.
“Which now of these three [asked Jesus]. . . was neighbor unto him that fell upon the thieves?”
And [the lawyer] said, “He that he that showed mercy on him.”
Then said Jesus unto him, “Go and do thou likewise.” Luke 10: 36, 37