The chimney was belching forth an acrid, pungent, plume of smoke and steam. Polluting the air around me. It was otherwise one of those calm, fresh, crisp, early March mornings. Temperature just above freezing. Overnight rain had stopped and the threat of further inclemency had receded. But back to my neighbour with his wood burning 1.jpgstove (“multi-fuel” he calls it). It wouldn’t be so bad if he was burning the sort of fuel that is supposed to be used, but he tends to pile all sorts of rubbish onto the flames. But society has changed. It wasn’t so long ago that every house had an open fireplace, burning coal mainly. Particularly in the West of Fife where I live, populated as it has been by miners using their weekly allowance of coal. In fact the adjacent village of Oakley, nestling in a hollow adjacent to the main Dunfermline to Stirling road, was nicknamed “Smoakley” because of the pall of smoke gushing from chimneys which, on still days, filled the atmosphere like a dense fog. But the mining days are long gone, and a gas main provides the main source of heating fuel in our village today.

For society to function well, it needs people who put the rights of others before their own. Most people around me are good neighbours but there’s always a few who don’t care for others. But before I extend my “rant” to another neighbour with her loud radio and tuneless vocals,  I have to remember what Jesus said about our neighbours. He was very clear about what being neighbourly meant, with His teachings based on the Good Samaritan parable, and His quotation from Deuteronomy 22 – “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important:‘Love your neighbour as yourself’Paul wrote as well in Philippians 2 – Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too”.

So I won’t go and hammer on Bill’s door. Instead, I’ll pray for him and his wood burning stove, that I will be more tolerant, and that he will find something suitable to burn that doesn’t make us all choke. And we’ll get on fine. But that woman – when I was at school I built an electronics device that jammed radio broadcasts. I wonder what I did with the circuit diagram…

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