This semester, my morning routine has been pretty consistent.
I usually skip breakfast, fill up my mug with some cold brew, and put on my headphones to listen to a podcast as I walk to my car—typical millennial stuff.
I live in an apartment complex across the street from Kearny High School and so my car is almost always parked alongside the campus. But up until Saturday, I would not have been able to tell you the name of a single high school student I passed by every morning. But now I do.
On Saturday, I spent the morning at our Annual Spring Clean with 140 other Floodsters and Kearny students. Although I had been to this event many times before, it was my first Spring Clean as a resident of Linda Vista.
It was the first time I realized that I was neighbors with the students I was serving alongside.
In the Bible, there’s a guy who asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” To be honest, I always thought it was a laughably, dumb question. Living in a small village, this guy had to have known who his neighbors were. Whenever I read that passage, I always just laughed off his shock that Jesus was telling him to love the people next door.
But this week, as I’ve been reflecting on Saturday’s experience, I realized that I walk right by neighbors every day. With headphones on I don’t even attempt to see the people around me.
People like the group of students that I found myself working alongside with for most of the day. Together we were given the unholy task of diving within the depths of the auditorium underbelly to retrieve rusted chairs and soda cans from the 70’s. And it was as fun as it was disgusting.
While it’s been seven years since I graduated high school, I can still hear myself in the things they were talking about.
I wish I could say that I gave them Yoda-levels of sagacious insight into the issues they were talking about, but for the most part I spent it just being neighborly—asking questions about their lives, making small talk, and sharing funny stories.
Meeting your neighbors begins by asking the right questions.
Asking something as basic as “Who is my neighbor?” builds bridges to ask better questions once we meet them.
I was kind of surprised with how open the students were in sharing about their lives. And I’m grateful that I now know who some of my neighbors are.
So if you happen to see me walking to my car this week, you may see me with a neighbor, but you definitely won’t see me with my headphones on.
About the Author:
Josh Kettles is our College Director and one of our Graduate Interns at Flood. He graduated from USD as a Creative Writing major and is currently attending Bethel Seminary to attain a Master of Divinity degree.
While you won’t find him listening to podcasts on his commute from the apartment to his car anymore, he’ll still be the man to ask when looking for a good one (especially if you’re itching to learn more about the reality TV series, Survivor).