I came to Vienna with the American delegation for the Peace Starts with Me festival. As a few of us were visiting the heart of Vienna (which includes St Stephen’s Cathedral where Dietrich used to attend mass) we bumped into a Federation for World Peace member from France, and we started sharing.
Although from German descent he had been living in France for many years, and he explained to us that he had difficulties establishing deep meaningful relationships. Because of that, he felt unfulfilled, a little depressed, and that his life was at a standstill. We encouraged him, “never give up, continue the good work, at the end you will succeed.”
But is it not true that it takes two to tango? To have a happy life, we must make peace within ourselves, in our family, but also with our close neighbors, and establish deep meaningful relations to feel valued or embraced or understood. The give and take of love goes around and returns to the giver. We are born that way to connect with each other in a family, to connect with our community with love, empathy and care. No one should feel alone or neglected.
At Fairbanks Square loving community, I remember Stephan, who every day made a few trips to the garbage disposal. It was healthy for him to make a 2-minute walk from his apartment a few times a day; that makes 10 minutes and here is your workout for a 90 years old young man. But most of all in Fairbanks there are plenty of benches on the way to the garbage disposal and the chances are in Southern California you will meet someone sitting there. Stephan had plenty of opportunities each day to strike up a conversation, and that was even healthier than walking. He was indeed the first person I shared with about my tribe and the motto. He encouraged me and that made me feel good.
The other thing about Stephan is that he is always extremely helpful. When we could not put our sofa together I asked him, do you know a young man who could help us? He said he was the young man and he could put this thing together on the spot.
Stephan is so proud of his wife, Judith, saying that every morning she goes to church to give communion to people. To hear that, I was already impressed, so Judith and I met and we had many prayers together, and many deep memories of sharing love joy and sadness together. It was her that I called in a very difficult moment. After the funeral home came to pick up Dietrich’s body after he passed, I told Judith I am coming to your home for dinner tonight. She came to pick me up with Cathy, another wonderful neighbor and former nun. So I had dinner with Judith and Stephan and lunch with Cathy.
I want to try harder to make things around me more happy, more lovable. I want to take time to greet someone with a smile, and like Stephan did, serve someone today.
Did not Jesus say, love your neighbors like yourselves. If you love your neighbors you already love God.