I decided to walk down to the lake this morning, going along the boardwalk to the outlook that stretched into the marshland. It’s a walk I’ve always enjoyed because I know I’ll find a heron in the wetland and ducks paddling about in the waterlilies. Some mornings, the resident otter is there, too, and always the soft “plop” of frogs as I walk along the dock.
Usually, I’m the only one on the outlook. I tend to walk early and I’ve discovered that this isn’t an “up and at ’em” neighbourhood. By the time I’m on the boardwalk, all the worker bees have left for work and the rest of the hive are still struggling to get out of bed. So, I enjoy my solitary moments as I survey the little lake and take time to be thankful for the day ahead.
Today, there was someone at the outlook when I got there. I felt a fleeting moment of annoyance. What was he doing in my spot? I waited to see if he would leave, but he showed no signs of leaving.
“Good morning,” I said. “Isn’t the lake lovely in the sunlight?”
And so we started to talk. Nothing significant. Nothing earth-shattering. No philosophical discussions or heart-felt confessions. Just two human beings enjoying a beautiful morning together.
“Have a wonderful day,” he said, as he turned to go.
“You, too,” I said, smiling. And we went our separate ways.
I’ve been thinking about that little encounter all morning. We have become such a suspicious world, so careful of our privacy and so loathe to become “involved” with anyone we don’t know. We’ll cross the street to avoid a passing stranger. We’ll move to another seat rather than sit with someone we don’t know. We avert our eyes from the counter clerk, ignore the small child, turn aside from the elderly man or frown at the rowdy teenager. We don’t want to meet people from other cultures or even from outside our small circle of friends. Our comfort zone is familiarity. Anything else is frightening, challenging or even, in our minds, dangerous.
We’ve lost the ability to connect with people in random ways.
I’m reminded of one of the newer hymns, one which expresses so well what I’m trying to say:
“Draw the circle wide, draw the circle wide.
No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side.
Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still.
Let this be our song! No one stands alone.
Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide!”
My circle is now one person wider than it was yesterday. Even if it’s only one encounter, the circle remains changed forever.
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