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"The Lord said, It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18. "No man Is An Island." By John Donne. "Then the Lord said, to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I My Brother's Keeper?" Genesis 4:8-10. "I Need You To Survive." Song by Hezekiah Walker.

My grandson told me that he would like to be on an island by himself with one other person, but not an adult. I informed him that if he is with one other person, then he is not alone. Further, I told him that this experience would not last long because he is used to having food prepared for him. He decided to think this through a little more. I will make concessions for him because he is a child, but many adults underestimate our need for other people to not only survive, but to thrive.

In the biblical narrative of Cain and Abel, Cain slew his brother out of anger and jealousy. When God asked him where his brother was, he was evasive, answered disrespectfully, and he lied. This was not because he did not know where his brother was or that he did not feel on some level that he was his brother's keeper. Rather, according to noted Baptist Preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, "If he were so hardened as to do the deed it is not likely he will display much softness when the deed is brought home to him. The cool impudence of Cain is an indication of the state of heart which led up to his murdering his brother. He would not have proceeded to the cruel deed of bloodshed if he had not, first, cast off the fear of God and been ready to defy his Maker." How is your heart?

An old African Proverb states, "It Takes A Village to Raise A Child." I lived this as a child growing up in Harlem; the entire community interacted with the children (by this I mean there was always some adult/s watching you ready to discipline you and to report back to your parents). Sometimes (all the time) this felt intrusive, but understandable because everyone was looking out for the well being of every child. The one takeaway from this was that I felt that I was never alone; there was always someone there looking out for me. As I look back, I understand why now I always feel that people are around me when I am mostly by myself. I am a loner (an introvert masquerading as an extrovert) even though it does not appear that way. I know, you thought I was so gregarious. I am. It is not an act, but I am equally content in solitude. The truth is, without really labeling anything or anyone (most of the time not consciously formulating anything) I have established a village. There is my family (including church family), friends, acquaintances, associates, doctors, lawyers, colleagues, etc., that are only a phone call away. We all need a village.

God blesses us through other people. If you have had the fortune to have celebrated anything in your life, it is usually with others in attendance. On the other hand, when one experiences loss or some kind of trauma, the occurrence is more bearable when we have others to walk with us, weep with us, pray with us, laugh with us, remember with us, and so on. There are even those who will bless us financially to get through a rough patch in our lives. When God created Adam he knew that there would come a time when Adam would need someone to love and to lean on. We are God's creations, and we still need each other to love and to lean on. Going DOLO ((doing something on your own without the help or advice of others) may seem like the latest trendy thing to say or do. But, remember we were not built that way. We are all interconnected. Can you or I really claim self-sufficiency? Think about these things: food, shelter, clothing, education, medicine, companionship, etc., and then answer the preceding question. A wakeup call is in order. Listen carefully to the lyrics of the song noted immediately below.

"I Need You To Survive" by Hezekiah Walker. He describes through song the lessons that we have not learned well enough, and therefore remain to be studied and applied:

I need you, you need me. We're all a part of God's body. Stand with me, agree with me. We are all a part of God's body. It is His will that every need by supplied. You are important to me, I need you to survive. You are important to me, I need you to survive. I pray for you. You pray for me. I love you, I need you to survive. I won't harm you with words from my mouth. I love you. I need you to survive. It is His will that every need be supplied. You are important to me. I need you to survive.

Contrary to Cain's protest, we are naturally our brother's keeper. God is love and He made us to be caring, kind and to love one another. He implores us to. "Love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:31. "This means that we are to show kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and provide service to and for your neighbor." And who is your neighbor? "Loving your neighbor does not stop with those right around your residence. Your neighbor is everyone, including the least of these." Matthew 25:40 : "And the King will say, "I tell you the truth when you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me."

The questions to ponder are; Do you really love your neighbor? Do your actions demonstrate that? Could you do better? Do you want to do better?

There is no time like the present to make a change.

1. The world needs more love right now. We are in such a distressing time and place as a country. The Covid-19 Pandemic notwithstanding. It is compounded with the demonstrations and riots that have broken out across the country in protest of an African American male (George Floyd) dying at the hands of the police. This is sad and unfortunate. Try as we might there is nothing we can do about the past. We all mourn the loss of a life taken so heartlessly. And yes, we should peacefully demonstrate against this injustice and against racism and injustice wherever we see it, and we should vote to put in office those who believe that "all men are created equal" in the eyes of God. But, then we should go a step further and let our living and governing hold these truths to be "self-evident." Each of us (all of us) must live each day showing love to all we meet. When we encounter others, we should view them through the lens of each of us being God's creation and therefore our brother or sister and then act/treat them accordingly.

2. Who is in your village? We were not meant to exist alone. It is tempting to believe that we can pull ourselves up by the old proverbial "boot straps." Well, who made the boots and the straps? I am, of course, being facetious. The honest truth is that from the beginning of time, we needed someone. We got this from the highest source, the Lord God Almighty. It is truer now than ever, given we keep creating artificial barriers to having others engage with us. For example, you can be in a house full of people or there can be two people and yet one feels totally alone. Major offender: Cellphones. Another offender: TV. First and foremost let us put down those distractions and make certain that our family is in our village and being heard, recognized and appreciated. Have you given any thought to those you might call on in times of joy and sorrow? In sickness, in health? Get those folks in your village. We were instructed to be fruitful and multiply for a reason. Your assignment now is to check out who is in your village. Write it down.

3. Do you have any obstacles to being your brother's keeper? Now, we are not responsible for another man in terms of taking upon one's self another man's responsibilities. For example, no one can secure salvation for another or assume the vows and/or promises for another. "Every tub must sit on its own bottom." Before we get this severe, we are in a sense our brother's keeper. God made us to care for and look out for one another. In this light, we should be interested in the welfare of others. Cain's biggest obstacle was that he had "heart trouble." Not clogged arteries, just that his heart turned to stone from envy. Jealousy, envy, hatred, are just some of the things that can cloud our vision, cool our heart, and block our humanity, manifesting itself into some ugly and often dangerous actions. Remember the command to "love God, love yourself and to love others." Do not falsely believe that you are exempt. You are not. If we take it one step further, "How can you say that you do not love your brother whom you have seen and yet declare that you love God whom you have not seen?" 1 John 4:20. Clear those obstacles and start showing this love today.

4. No Man is An Island; Build Your Village. You may have kicked some people out of your village. Okay, maybe kicked is too harsh. You may have shunned some folks (after all, they got on your nerves, offended you in some way or maybe you simply outgrew them). Some people have thrown everyone out of their village believing that they can only count on themselves. I have been guilty of this at times (unknowingly). Then as life would have it, an event occurred that I needed others to walk with me through. I remember several years ago when I had a suspicious mammogram and had to retake it several times, and then do a biopsy and then finally had to have a surgical procedure. Thank God everything was benign. But, this was one of those times when I realized that I was not an island; I did not want to stand alone. I reached out to others (family, church family, friends, specialists, etc.) who had training in this area, been through such an experience, or knew someone who had been through this same type thing and others who had not, but were empathetic and sympathetic. Wow, "it is not good for man to dwell alone." I found a wealth of knowledge, love, prayer and support. I implore you, if you have cancelled the inhabitants of your "village," go back and retrieve them. If you never had one, start building. If you have not realized this already, you are going to need one.

"I need you, you need me. Stand with me. Agree with me. It is His will that every need be supplied. I love you, I need you to survive." God has willed that we love one another. Love is an action word. No matter what is going in our world, we are to act as our brother's keeper. We are to treat each other with the kindness, fairness, and

compassion that each of us is entitled to in accordance with God's will. It will make for a better world!

Brighten someone's day this week! Be kind to someone you don't know.

God bless and keep you.

Yours, Yvette

Note of Thanks: Thank you to all who participated in the online Zoom workshop, "Finding Your Passion" that I conducted on June 6, 2020. I am so blessed to report that this workshop was SOLD OUT. God be praised! Those taking the workshop overwhelmingly responded that this event was extremely helpful, informative and fun, and they indicated that they would like a part two. So get ready for part two. Praying that you will be able to be a part of the "Finding Your Passion, Part Two. You will be getting more information. Be blessed! Stay safe.

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