My Simplicity Journey: Who is My Neighbor?

Article by Malcolm Marler, Edited by Dee DeWitt


We are a busy people rushing through life.  And yet recently, a few people chose a different pace.


There was a woman in her thirties who was walking early one cold, wintry morning. You could see her breath in the air as she stopped at the corner a couple of blocks from her work waiting for the light to change.  Cars rushed by in the busy downtown city.


She waited until the light was red and the crosswalk signal was white, and then something happened. No one was sure if she stepped awkwardly off the curb, or if she became dizzy and just fell.


Regardless, the result was hard to watch.


She hit the pavement face first and lay motionless for a moment.  Cars hit their brakes.  A nurse was walking out of a nearby parking deck and saw the woman fall and came running to her aid.  ”Are you ok, ma’am, are you ok?!” she yelled.


The injured woman was disoriented, dazed, and struggled to get up.  The nurse encouraged her to remain still while she leaned over her.  Another woman came running to the scene with her cell phone in hand and called 911.  The injured woman’s face and mouth were bleeding badly.  Paper napkins from a nearby restaurant were brought by another stranger to help stop the bleeding.  Several cars stopped asking if they could help.


One driver saw the women helping the lady in need and pulled his car across the lane so that she would not be hit by other cars, risking his own safety with his emergency blinkers flashing.  Another man came running and took off his long, heavy coat and placed it over the woman to keep her warm. He cradled her head and reassured her in a calming, soothing voice.


Paramedics arrived within a few minutes, asked some questions of the patient, and gently put her on the stretcher, loaded her into the ambulance, and took her to the hospital a short distance away.


As the siren blared, the strangers who had stopped to help turned to one another and looked into each others’ eyes with concern on their faces …


For a moment, they were one family doing what they could to help.  It didn’t matter that they had different color skin, were different ages, or spoke with various accents.  They were one.


One of them spoke up and said he would go to the emergency room and make sure she was ok. Others looked relieved and thanked him … And they all walked away into the cold morning air.


About an hour later the man was relieved to see her sitting up when he entered her room at the hospital as the nursing staff tended to her wounds.  He introduced himself and she thanked him for his assistance at the scene.  ”We just wanted to make sure you were ok,” he added with a smile.


“Yes, yes, thank you so much for coming to see me,” she said more than once.  He left his card and asked her to call if he could help further as he slipped out of the room.


Love your neighbor as yourself.  And who is my neighbor?


Live simply enough to see your neighbor … who will be in front of you tomorrow.




“We live in a world that has narrowed into a neighborhood before it has broadened into a brotherhood.”
-Lyndon B. Johnson


Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit


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Posted on 21 March, 2010 in Helping Others, Inspirational Stories, Simplify
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