Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Have You Seen My Goat?

You know you live in a village when…

You know you live in a village when you see your farmer neighbor driving a horse drawn wagon more often than a tractor.

You know you live in a village when someone comes up to you on the street and frantically asks, “Have you seen my goat? I’ve lost my goat!”

You know you live in a village when the air smells of strawberries one day and of cow manure the next.

Finally, you know you live in a village when a herd, sixty or seventy strong, of sheep come screaming past your house—blocking all traffic and filling the air with the sound of “Baaaaaahhhhhh!”

Yes, I live in a village. It is not a small village by any means. In fact there is even a Real (pronounced Ree All), which is a bit like a K-Mart. The town of Nordenstadt is about half the size of my hometown of Whiteville, NC. So, there are certainly smaller and more rural locations in the Wiesbaden area. I mean, it’s no Kloppenheim! It is, none the less, a village by American standards. And, in a village life is different, slower, quieter.  

In small towns and villages, neighbors still hold neighbors to the cultural expectations that are rapidly lost in larger German cities. We are, for example, expected to refrain from outdoor work or boisterous play during quite hours, which run from 1:00 to 3:00 pm every day. Saturday is for mowing the grass. Mow your grass! Everyone must work together to keep the common areas clean and free of snow and leaves. Speak! Never simply ignore a neighbor. Say “Hallo, guten tag.” Anything less is just rude. And, of course, help each other. If your neighbor has a need, seek to meet that need. People are obligated to people in small town Germany.

So, I ask you, is our little German village all that different from small town USA? Not really. They still know the value of a good neighbor. A good and respectable neighbor, who helps and supports the neighborhood, who works with and not against the community, and who tries to follow the social customs—this is valued just about anywhere.

I am trying hard to keep this in mind. All disciples should strive to witness to God’s love through neighborliness. After all, being a good neighbor us just the Christian thing to do. 

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