School is out for the summer.
Overstuffed desks have been emptied from the (crayons, pencils, forgotten tests and assignments) of nine months of learning and jammed into the backpacks of children popping the cork of their energy as they run and burst through the doors in a mass exodus after the school bell rings one final time to kick off summer break…
Yes, school may be out for the summer,
But class is still in session.
We’re always learning.
We’re always teaching.
It’s always show-and-tell.
As we continue to teach from the classrooms of our lives.
My dad was one of those teachers.
Dad taught from the front lawn of his neighborhood, a school whose mail was delivered to the home he shared with his beloved Joyce during their marriage, retirement and golden years.
Dad lived and breathed in this close-knit community of like-minded relationships whose pulse and heartbeat was traced to the second greatest commandment given to us…
Love your neighbor as yourself…
Mark 12:31 NIV
With the first greatest commandment being…
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
And with all your soul
And with all your mind
And with all your strength.
Mark 12:30 NIV
It was written…
…There is no commandment greater than these.
Mark 12:31 NIV
And so my father did.
And they did likewise.
To love their neighbors in the houses to the left of themselves, to the right of themselves and down the street; wherever there was need.
While dad came up empty and without a high school diploma on Graduation Day as an eighteen year old, he was highly decorated with an Honorary Degree in going the extra mile for his brother, a Lifetime Achievement Award for all the extra credit in loving his neighbor.
Sadly, we as his children didn’t learn about our father’s accolades until the remaining months of his life battling cancer.
When my father’s reputation for his pristine and well-manicured lawn was now overgrown with weeds…
The neighbors began showing up without an invitation, without an exchange of compensation, without expectation;
To mow, trim, care and lift the burden of my father’s lawn during his final days of summer and beyond until the house sold months after we said good-by to dad, as a lesson learned and tribute echoing back to our father.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Because you see, class was in session from my father’s front lawn when he’d notice the once-pristine now overgrown lawns of his neighbors and crossed their property lines with his mower to meet an unspoken need.
Dad held class all year long among the neighbors of this close-knit community, even during the winter months of plowing snow.
Just loving his neighbors as himself.
Seven years later the school bell rang again to remind a grown daughter how
Class was still in session.
The textbook of my father’s life was opened up and now being taught from the front lawn of our address, when noticing through the kitchen window my husband crossing property lines and mowing the overgrown lawns of neighbors unable to do so themselves.
Without an invitation…
Without an exchange of compensation…
Serving somebody’s mother…
Serving somebody’s father…
Just loving our neighbors as himself.
This class is still in session…
Reminding me of the lessons my father taught with his life.
When you bountifully sow into another man’s field, you’ll reap a bountiful harvest in yours.