The summer that I was born, my father commissioned my uncle by marriage, husband of my mom's closest sister, to build a cottage for us at beautiful Nags Head. I don't remember its construction, of course, for I was an infant but my mom and dad told me the story years later when I was old enough to take it in. My uncle had been deathly ill, but somehow recovered miraculously and needed an opportunity to get back to work. He was a self-taught builder of both cottages and boats and Dad who knew he would appreciate the new start and would do an excellent job. Besides, he was a native Outer Banker and knew better than anyone the perils of a cottage not built to withstand the might of the Atlantic which spoke with fury at least every few years.
The opportunity got his life back on track and, of course, my aunt was grateful, but my uncle promised it would be as well constructed as humanly possible would weather the Outer Banks elements come what may without failure. Dad knew him to be a man of his word and gave him the go ahead to construct it the way he knew would be best.
It cost a few extra dollars, for the pilings were of better grade than code and an extra nail was put in each shingle. It made the process take a little longer but when our family came for the summer for the first time to stay there both Mom and Dad were more than pleased.
You see, my uncle didn't just build it to meet the government standard, he built it with gratefulness and love in his heart for the chance to get on his feet again. And the cottage was a jumping off point for his construction work as word spread to others about the quality of his work. It proved itself over and over again through many hurricanes as well as the Great Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962. It lost nary a shingle and the high water ran under and through, never challenging the strength of the pilings on which the cottage sat.
Uncle Hal, a smart but modest and man of few words built the cottage with love in his heart for Mom and Dad and his loving wife who was counting on him and he was repaid for it many fold over the years. And with his cottage construction, his mastery of building work boats and his other interests in crabbing and shrimping, he supported my aunt despite the earlier years of little hope, sickness and despair. And it all came together through love, respect and hard work with the grace of God.
So, when Jesus told his Disciples to love others, including everyone, friend and foe alike in His new commandment to his followers, He was telling us to live our lives with love. For love conquers all and it's what is expected of us by Our Creator, who made us, after all, in His own image. Think about that as you ponder what is expected of you during the rest of your life, for whatever may have been your earlier approach, it's never too late to change. It's never too late to love your fellow man.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the teachings of Jesus and we ask that you help us to take them to heart and apply them to all that we do in our lives. And above all, help us to love our fellow man. In His name we pray, Amen.