“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).
Picture it. Gray skies. Bitter winds. Barren trees. White landscapes. It’s undoubtedly winter time, well past the warmth and lights of the Christmas season, but so far from the budding trees and daffodils, green grass, and warm springtime sun. It’s a time when many of us find the indoors to be our favorite place to pass the time. Nature is harsh this time of year, making us less likely to spend time in the yard, take walks, go to the park, or chat with a neighbor outside. Sometimes just curling up in front of the television with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa is all we want to do on a cold winter day. The mornings are dark; late afternoon is dark. It’s just natural to want to stay inside!
While our inclination might be to hibernate as much as possible, we need to take care to remember our neighbors. Although we might not see them as much as in the warmer months, this is the time they might need us most. Think especially of elderly or housebound neighbors who might feel very isolated at this time of year. Freezing temperatures or icy sidewalks might make it tough for them to even leave the house. Be sure to give a call or stop by an elderly neighbor’s house to check on them. Some of them might need some groceries because they can’t make it to the supermarket, and some might just enjoy a visit over a cup of coffee. When it snows, think about shoveling a neighbor’s front steps and walk or their driveway, or cleaning off their car- it would mean so much to someone who has a hard time shoveling. Another idea is to bring over some goodies to brighten your neighbor’s day. If you’re making soup or cookies, drop off some for them to enjoy. Even the smallest of gestures can go a long way in warming hearts.
Fast forward to the warmer months in spring and summer, when both you and your neighbors will fondly look back on how you helped to warm their hearts (and your own). Those warm thoughts will last through all the seasons.
The members of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society work to help those who are elderly, home bound or have difficulty getting out, no matter what the weather. Whether it’s providing company to a lonely senior citizen, or bringing meals to the home bound, St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers provide comfort and care to those who need it.
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community, for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”