Dear Neighbor

In early August, my wife Lauren drafted me to help set up her first grade classroom. As part of this, she had to build a class library out of nothing, since her charter school doesn’t have one. So the most realistic option became the Goodwill Outlet store within Indianapolis proper, where we loaded up on over 150 books for less than $50.

After coming home, my next job was to mark each book with a “Property of Mrs. Heaton” tag and flip through them to make sure everything was in order (i.e., readable and free of graffiti). Out of one of the books popped a personal letter, dated August 1973, from “Phyllis Glover” to an unspecified neighbor. The letter seems to have been taped inside a book, though it’s doubtful that it came from any of the first grade-level readers that we bought. The words are very legible, though the paper and especially the tape have yellowed. You can click the image to read a larger version of it, or I have reproduced the words below:

Dear Neighbor,
Today my hands are strong, So let me help you, Tomorrow they may be weak, or old, + sick and you will have to lighten my load, Today my hands are strong, so let me share your burdens, for why do we exist if we cannot care for one another, walk others paths, know their sorrows.
Neighbor, today my hands are strong, let me help you.
Phyllis Glover
Aug. – 1973.

Sad as it may be that this beautiful, touching letter ended up dumped at a Goodwill Outlet store, it fills me with hope for the state of society. Individual people are both the root of the problem and the ultimate solution for that which troubles our world.

Thank you, Phyllis Glover, for your 37-year-old reminder to show compassion to our neighbors. More than any commandment, may this become our duty and our privilege. May we all find the time to “care for one another, walk others paths, know their sorrows.”

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