top of page

Who is my Neighbor?

Updated: May 15, 2020

Originally sent as an email around 7/14/19

My Sunday morning TO DO list:

  • Centering prayer meditation

  • Kundalini yoga

  • Juice some veggies

  • Keep in touch, write, walk

Well, this Sunday morning my TO DO list got trumped once again by my TO BE “list”.

This sometimes occurs when I give up my plans and deeply listen to the “still small voice”, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

So, I put my plans for the morning aside and responded to the invitation to allow my “ghost” writer to direct my steps. I never know where I’m gonna go when I yield to my Inspirer. I almost never sit down to write with a plan in mind; rather, I’m learning more how to be carried along and directed. I trust that this is the fruit of much quiet sitting in the Presence and the desire of my heart to share the light that’s being given to me.

I’m certain that the artists I know who are reading this would echo the importance of staying in the flow of creativity.

Today’s victory: A triumph of HEART over HEAD.

Here’s what emerged as I listened…

Yesterday, at one of my Saturday men’s gatherings, our presenter passed along some wisdom and experience he had accumulated in his 70+ years. Before he was done, he played the following video that offers a fresh take on the gospel story that will be read today in many churches.

Lower your shields: If your religious antennae are starting to go up, I ask that you temporarily lower them and just receive the stories I’m about to share, as just that, stories.

The 5-minute video you’re about to watch begins with the following: “Rather than offering a definition which would just prompt another question and maybe an argument and the people would just find loopholes, Jesus offers him (the man who asked, “Who is my neighbor?”) a story – because a definition can close down our minds, but a story can really open it up.”

--from Fr. James Martin’s Facebook page

For those not familiar with this tale, here’s a version:

Grandparents, Parents:

If you have the opportunity to tell the story to your grandchildren/children, be sure to find an illustrated children’s bible like this one. Pretend you’re Peter Falk reading to Fred Savage and add your own touches.

Here’s a short animated version you can watch with your kids. The full version is here.

--from the song in the video:

“When you look with your heart instead of your eyes…”

--from his final speech - “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” delivered on April 3, 1968 – about 2 months before Bobby Kennedy would be killed and 1 day before he, too, would be gunned down by hate.

Article on “Daredevil” - a Marvel character with Good Samaritan sensibilities

--found this link in a Wikipedia page on the Good Samaritan

--A good Samaritan is always listening and looking for opportunities to serve those in need. Kinda sounds like a Teacher I follow.

An early attempt to earn my Good Samaritan hero’s cape

Sangha buddies: Please reply and let me know if any of you were with me on the night of this adventure.

One night I was out walking with some friends with no particular place to go.

We were a bunch of “wild and crazy guys” headed to a local night spot to search for some “foxes”. (Richie, remind you of me and you back in the day?)

Behind us we hear the thump, thump, thump of a car driving with a flat tire. It pulls to a stop just ahead of us. I decide to see if I can help. Note: I was just learning to “play with cars,” as my automotive repair mentor and friend Steve used to say, and I’d worked mostly on VW’s.

Steve was a disciple of VW guru John Muir, who wrote a very helpful and funny “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive – a Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot.” Correct spelling as shown. Note: this book was 20+ years ahead of the popular “Dummies” books. It’s now in its 20th printing, having been purchased by millions of folks that, like me, want to do it ourselves.

So I sized up the situation - flat tire.. foxes in the car... superhero to the rescue...and they drove off together into the night...and “Oh, what a night.” Well, read on to see how I was about to lose my opportunity for the cape… and the girl…

I located the jack and tire wrench and raised the left front of the vehicle until the tire was off the ground.

“Hey, it’s only flat on the bottom.”

I grabbed the tire iron in order to loosen the lug nuts. Wouldn’t budge. Not sure if this next part actually happened but it makes the story even funnier.

At some point I realized that part of my problem in trying to loosen the stubborn lug nuts was that, since the tire was off the ground, I couldn’t get good leverage - the wheel kept moving as I applied force to the tire iron.

So I lowered the car down and tried again. No go. I even used my foot and pushed as hard as I could. None of my bystander friends had any wisdom to add.

I’m sure the rest of this DID actually happen…

Just then help arrived in the form of a “greaser”. To me and my friends, anyone that even vaguely resembled John Travolta fit into this stereotype. These guys were Samaritans to us hippies, as were the straight-laced “preppies” we also made fun of. Of course, the three “ethnic” groups I just described hung out at different bars and night spots: hippies at 10 Downing Street (where I met my Eileen, my future soul mate), preppies at The Salty Dog, and greasers – I don’t recall. Might have been at White Castle or the Big Bow Wow or some other fast food joint near Cross Bay Blvd – a favorite local drag strip. FYI – McDonald’s had not yet brought its nutritious “food” to our area.

This mysterious stranger walked up, surveyed the situation, went back to his “muscle” car and came back with a drop light that he connected to the car’s battery. (Note to self: add one of these to my infant tool collection.)

He then did something that amazed me and at the same time showed me how much I still needed to learn - he turned the tire iron the opposite way I had been trying to turn it - he turned it clockwise. Huh? I had been taught “Lefty loosey, righty tighty.”

When the spare was put on and the vehicle was back on the ground, he explained that Chrysler used left handed threads on the driver side of this car so the lug nuts wouldn’t loosen up when driving forward. If I had a drop light like him, I might have noticed the “L” on the head of each wheel stud. (Note to self: next time, remember to use both left and right hemispheres of brain.)

Well, this Don Quixote would have to wait for another opportunity to rescue a damsel in distress. And more “screw” up’s would occur on my road to a career “playing with cars.”

A picture’s worth a 1,000 words

--are you a member?


I just re-read John Muir’s Chapter VI – Flat Tire! I could have shortened that night’s learning curve if I had read it beforehand. Besides the very simple tech tips, John always added humor. Here’s an example from the beginning of the chapter on tires:

“It may seem redundant to most of you to have a chapter on the lowly tire, but perhaps there are some, particularly on the distaff side, who would like some specific direction in this most common of road emergencies. It helps if you have a mini-skirt and good legs.”

This book is by John Muir (b1918– d1977) who was a structural engineer who worked for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), who "dropped out," 1960s-style, to become a writer and long-haired car mechanic with a garage in Taos, New Mexico, and who specialized in maintenance and repair of Volkswagens.

For Steve, Richie, Mike C, Mike T, Cathy T and, of course, Chickie – all the folks that owned V-dubs of all shapes and sizes: buses, bugs, convertibles and Karmann Ghia’s

--article even includes a 1-minute video of John

Coming to my rescue many times, he was truly a good Samaritan to me – and those other VW owners cited above that I tried to help along the long and winding road of life...

--John Muir - my guru Good Samaritan

Rest in pieces…

--from the book’s Frontispiece - this illustration depicts many nights in my early days of turning wrenches



bottom of page