Love Your Neighbor

Weekly Reflection, Sunday, May 10, 2020

By: Meg Zehmer, Early Childhood Educator and Parent Coach

From a very early age, the well- known verse, “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39) has held special meaning for me. I remain unsure if it is the joy which I derive from helping others or the emphasis on neighbor which reminds me of Mr. Rogers.

On a daily basis, words such as pandemic, leveling the curve, sheltering in place, social distancing and uncharted territory bombard us. Our world has changed dramatically in a very short period of time! Numerous times a day, we are reminded this is an unprecedented time. It is becoming increasingly evident we must change our paradigms and adjust to a new normal.

Prior to COVID-19, I never could have imagined teaching four-years-olds remotely! Initially, my thoughts revolved around how twenty-seven little girls could realistically get their social and emotional needs met through distance learning. How would they understand why schools were closed? What would their reaction be when they realized they would be completing the remainder of their JK year at home without their teachers? More importantly, how would they process their feelings? My mind raced as I wondered what I could do or say to reassure them during this challenging time. Almost immediately, my thoughts quickly turned to Mr. Rogers. If he were still living, what would he say and do given this situation? When he was a young boy and saw scary things on the news, his mother would say: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” This was the advice I desperately needed!

Next, my thoughts shifted to my faith. Feeling scared and uncertain, I closed my eyes to pray. Psalm 27:1 came to mind: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life.”

Knowing God would provide me with the strength I needed to handle this situation provided me with peace. Armed with advice from Mr. Rogers and comforted by Psalm 27, I was ready!

I wasted little time connecting electronically with my students. After reading “Its ok not to be ok” by Todd Parr, I reminded them the importance of sharing their feelings when unsure, upset, and afraid. Next, I told them to “look for the helpers” which include their parents, family members, teachers, friends, and ministers. Young children naturally love to “help” and you can imagine their excitement when I reminded them that they, too, could be helpers in their homes and neighborhoods. In fact, I challenged them to do so.

This pandemic provides us with the perfect opportunity to love our neighbors. Without a doubt, this sentiment is long overdue and could not be more timely! How can we demonstrate this love and ensure it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood for others? Have you loved your neighbor today?