Borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor always seemed cliché to me. That is, until the day I watched with dismay as my last two eggs landed splat on my kitchen floor as I was making a dessert to take to a party. With no time to run to the store, it made the most sense to ask one of my neighbors if I could borrow a couple of eggs.
Stepping outside, I cringed with embarrassment to see that the only lights on belonged to a relatively new neighbor. I’d been meaning to go over and introduce myself when they moved in a couple months ago but I never followed through. I swallowed my shame and rang the bell. The woman who I’d only waved to from across the yard came to the door and her face lit up as if we were old friends. She immediately welcomed me inside and we shared a brief, proper introduction before I quickly confessed my guilt at not welcoming her sooner, as well as my clumsiness and dire need of eggs.
She instantly put me at ease and said that we’d get to know one another soon. “But right now,” she said, “there’s something urgent I need to do.” And with that, she left me standing in the entryway. Oh great, I thought. Not only did I come asking a favor, I came at the worst possible time. She reappeared a moment later, triumphantly said, “Crisis averted!” and handed me a full carton of eggs.
As I left, I apologized again for being such a poor neighbor and thanked her for the eggs. She touched my hand and said, “Honey we all need to borrow things from time to time; eggs are easy.” I crossed her yard back to my house and smiled when she returned my wave. Before closing her door, she said, “You come borrow what you need anytime. Eggs, sugar, even hope, if you find yourself running low on that.”
As I mixed the ingredients and put the cake in the oven, I couldn’t stop thinking about her words. How exactly does one borrow hope? It’s not like it can be measured out in five-pound bags and lent to someone who’s running low, no matter how handy that would be. Besides, it was hard enough to borrow eggs. When I feel hopeless, my default reaction is to tough it out. Pray for strength to persist and persevere, not to ask others for help.
As I cleaned up the kitchen, I realized what I really want is more of what I’d just experienced with my neighbor. To be genuinely welcomed when I am in need, and not seen as an interruption. To receive grace when I am not the best version of myself. To be shown radical hospitality and generosity, rather than just the bare minimum. Because that’s what connects us to one another, and to our sense of hope for our collective futures together. Whether that be a family, a neighborhood, a community, or the world.
As I stood at my kitchen sink and glanced at the house next door, I could smell the first delicious aromas from the oven and I was struck by a profound sense of gratitude. For running out of eggs, for the kindness and hospitality shown to me by my neighbor, and for the reminder to be more intentional in sharing God’s abundant love with others, even in the smallest of ways. Compassion for a stranger. Forgiveness for an absent friend. Homemade treats for a not-so-new neighbor.