A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘neighbours

Recently I picked up a CD of Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits. One song, written by Paul Simon in 1965, stands out for me: “I Am A Rock”:

I am shielded in my armor

Hiding in my room

Safe within my womb

I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock

I am an island

And a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries

Fifty years later, these lyrics remain relevant.

Without ever venturing out of our homes, we can do our banking, order groceries and clothes, buy gifts, telework, and stay in touch with family and friends. We can create our own “community” online. We can strictly limit human contact—and, in doing so, we can keep the world and all its pain and messiness at a distance.

It’s a choice some people may be comfortable in making, but one that leads mainly to loneliness and isolation, which seem all too common these days. More and more, human contact is something we have to seek out, but it’s worth the effort.

I enjoy the monthly CWL meetings at my parish as much for the social time as anything else. When I go to the bank, it’s not unusual to see a senior come into the branch rather than bank by phone or online. And at the yoga studio where I practise, certain classes have regulars who know one another, at least by name.

We all have times where we want to shut out the world because we’re overwhelmed or grieving or because we’ve been hurt and we feel we can’t depend on anyone else. But when we try to be that rock, to avoid all pain, we can become numb to others’ pain or struggles—the new parents who are exhausted and could use a night out, a neighbour coping with illness who needs help with yard work, newcomers to the country who need advice on getting into language classes or finding household items at a reasonable price, or even refugees half a world away who need our prayers and our support.

May we have the courage not to isolate ourselves but instead to let our hearts remain soft enough that we continue to care for our neighbour as God would have us do.


I used to work in Toronto near the waterfront. Most days, at the intersection closest to my building, a man stood begging for change during the afternoon rush hour. If I had some change, I gave him some. But how many other people in need of a little change did I pass by on my way to the train station?

How many times have I hesitated to volunteer my time or to lend items for fear I wouldn’t get them back?

How many times have I put off making phone calls because I didn’t feel like talking?

The other day I read something in Proverbs 3:27* that made me pause:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

when it is in your power to do it.

Today we have less of a sense of duty than earlier generations did. In some ways, that’s a good thing. We don’t have to marry just because our families think we should if we haven’t met the right person yet. We don’t have to pursue the career our relatives think we should if the interests and abilities God has given us lie elsewhere.

But in some ways, it’s a bad thing. We can focus a little too much on the “me” and not enough on the “we” in our day-to-day decision making:

  • We can be more interested in entertaining ourselves with TV and video games than in helping with chores so our household runs more smoothly and no one carries an unfair share of the workload.
  • We can sit back at our children’s games rather than volunteer when referees are late or stay in the church pew when the sacristan or lector doesn’t show up rather than step up to help the service run well.
  • We can let other people tidy up after school, community or church events and not help to make the work go faster because we want to get home.

I’m not suggesting we volunteer for every class trip, every church event, every worthy cause. It’s easy to overextend ourselves and perhaps be less than helpful if we volunteer for tasks we lack the skills to achieve. But if we lend a hand on a small scale more often when we do have the power to help—by driving our kids’ soccer teammates home after a game, lending our neighbours our tall stepladder to change some pot lights, babysitting (or puppy sitting) one night for a relative or friend, or cutting the grass for neighbours on vacation—we may do more good than we know.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

Please enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Recent Posts


8 Kids And A Business

Balancing a large family with a small business, all by God's mercy, grace and providence

roses near running waters

Just a Catholic wife & mama living a life full of wonder

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.