Being a student of Kabbalah, I am ever mindful of my thoughts. The theory is that what you put out there, you get back. Tolerance is key: when someone or something pushes your buttons, there is a lesson to be learned and potential Light to be revealed. Hence the term 'Love Thy Neighbour'.
Yes, that's right.
Love thy neighbour - even if they are a drug addict.
Love thy neighbour - even if they play their music loud and you have to overcome your usually timid nature to ask them to 'keep it down'
Love thy neighbour - even if they are teenage, with hoods pulled over their heads and scare the living daylights out of you.
Love thy neighbour - even if they are continually depressed. (Hey, I didn't say 'hang around with your depressive neighbour and allow them to bring you down with them').
'Loving thy neighbour' doesn't mean being a victim or a doormat in sycophantic loving acceptance of everyone and everything - to me it means more of just being able to see the other viewpoint - to walk in someone else's shoes and not judge them no matter how much they push our buttons.
And let's face it - there are plenty of people who push our buttons. But I wasn't expecting my actual neighbour to be one of them. Quelle surprise.
My neighbour Ron was pointing the side wall of his house this afternoon, standing in my back garden to do so. Ron is a mild-mannered Scot, in his mid fifties (I think), with a Sean Connery voice (I would love to ask him to say "Mish Moneypenny", but daren't..). We've stood and chatted a couple of times - he's a nice chap, is Ron.
I spotted him when I was hanging out the washing late this afternoon and poked my head around the conifers to have a quick chat and see what he was up to. Once again, polite conversation (although he does make me bristle by shortening my name - but I suck it back and let the moment pass) and then somehow we start talking about living off the land and I mentioned that if there were to be an enormous crisis, I wondered how many people would actually know how to grow their own food.
"Oh, there's already something on the way" says Ron, with a glint in his eye that told me he was holding some enormous secret.
"How do you mean?" I ask innocently. He smiled and hesitated. "Come on, what secret are you holding? What do you know that I don't" I laughed.
"Has nobody round here told you about me?" he asked "Has nobody told you what I am?"
"Noooo.........." I said, thinking that maybe he was a high ranking civil servant or was friends with a cabinet minister or somebody else in the know.
"Hmmm... okay. Well.... I'm a Jehovah's Witness" he said.
"Oh right." I said "Well I've been studying Kabbalah" I blurted. He'd never heard of it.
And then we compared Bible stories. Oh what fun. Suddenly cleaning the bathroom became a very attractive prospect and I was itching to get back inside.
He really knew his stuff (and like Dot Cotton out of Eastenders, he gave me chapter and verse - literally). I'll give him his due - he has never mentioned his faith before and seemed reluctant to reveal himself.
But I'm going to give myself a little credit too - I listened to what he had to say about the fundamental beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, even though I really, really, really didn't agree with what he was saying and would have loved to have cut the conversation short. And even when I explained a little about Kabbalah and he said "Och, Kabbie, you really need to be careful what you are gett'n' yerself in to there" as though I was getting sucked in to a dangerous cult, I took a deep breathe, smiled sweetly and said "Please, Ron, there really is no need to worry about me".
We both accepted that I didn't want to read his book and he didn't want to read mine. I have absolute faith and certainty in what I believe to be true, and so does he. He thinks I am totally doomed. I felt frustrated that he appeared so rigid in his views so as not to see any similarities between our two beliefs.
Bless him. We eventually (and very politely) ended the conversation, agreeing to disagree. Then we looked at the pointing again and disagreed on that too - I think he is doing a great job, whereas he is not so sure.
It was all getting a little too easy loving my neighbour, I guess, as far as unemployed, depressive, junkie, hoodies are concerned. So the Creator threw in long conversation with a Jehovah's Witness just to test my mettle.
So another one to add to the list:
Love Thy Neighbour: even if he thinks you are dooomed!
All the same, the conversation was (as us Essex birds like to say) 'enough to give me arse an 'eadache'. And it rained on my washing.