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Music & the Spoken Word: Neighbors in our own households

Small clear jar on its side with pennies spilling out

Lucy McClelland saved her pennies for a year so her sister, Anna, could have needed dental work. And her example has influenced generations of her family.

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Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given July 24, 2022.

Most of us want to love our neighbor. And yet, for some reason, it often seems easier to do that when the “neighbor” lives far away, perhaps in another country. But what of the neighbors who live close by, even in our own household? In many cases, that’s where our love is needed the most — and where it can do the most good.

More than a century ago, two sisters, Lucy and Anna McClelland, lived in a small pioneer settlement in the American Intermountain West. As she grew into young adulthood, Anna, who was two years younger than Lucy, determined to leave home and become a teacher. Her parents reluctantly consented, and Anna started a heavy load of classes at the academy. In her own words, she “didn’t have much fun.”

Meanwhile, Lucy stayed home and worked to help support the family, but her sister was never far from her mind. Specifically, she worried that Anna wasn’t smiling enough — and not just because of her demanding schoolwork. You see, Anna had three front teeth that were badly damaged, and her family had never had enough money for dental work. Lucy wanted her sister to have the confidence to stand in front of a classroom and not cover her mouth when she smiled. So Lucy saved her pennies for a year and sent Anna $17.50 to get her teeth fixed — a small fortune in those days!

Anna wrote: “If [Lucy] could realize how much it did for me and how I appreciate it. … I could now be with people without being so ashamed.” Anna became a teacher in their frontier town, and she never forgot her sister’s selfless gift.

As a descendant of Anna McClelland, I can tell you that Lucy’s example of love has influenced generations of her family. She has taught us that the greatest measure of joy comes from selflessly caring for someone else —especially someone near and dear to us. True, nearness sometimes creates friction. The closer someone is, the greater the chance that they might annoy us or even hurt us. But nearness also creates the greatest potential for deep and lasting love. So as we seek to do as the Lord said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39), we need not look for a neighbor in some distant land. We can start in our own home.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoir and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages

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