Posted by: Sheila | October 9, 2008

A casual encounter

People have a strange habit of speaking to me unannounced. It probably happens to us all in fact I am sure it does in one way or another. I used to think it was just a coincidence, one of those things but now I realise its all part of life’s rich tapestry.

It could happen anywhere; in shops, the pharmacy, churches, banks almost anywhere. Strangers who speak to you can often end up having quite a personal conversation and you do not even know each other. Sometimes when you are really upset speaking to a stranger is so much easier than someone who knows you or thinks that they do.

So one day, I was at mass and a lady started whispering to me how her Dad had died recently and how she felt and how her husband didn’t understand why she was still upset months later. How a hymn had triggered a thought, a tear and so on.

Another day in a hardware shop buying planks of wood for our wardrobe a man on a motorbike wheeled in and almost instantly started pouring out his life and career.

In these moments I try hard to remember the wise words that a person should only give advice when asked. For me who naturally loves to help I have to really bite my tongue and say as little as possible. (Needless to say inside I am bursting to make a speech!)

For years I thought these phenomena was strange and exclusive to me. Not in a conceited way but just that I was odd. Strangers connecting with strangers. Then I got to thinking. How did I make my own friends and acquaintances? Many of those seemed like accidents at the time.

We are all connected in one way or another. We all have something to give and something to receive. In one way or another we are all learners and teachers. Every person has something to offer and every person has lots to learn.

Now I realise that every encounter is measured in the big picture. One heartfelt word or one sour one from an individual can make a big difference to how a person gets through their day. It is the same for us all so long as we are aware of it. A kind word or a squeeze of a hand or a grateful smile can make a world of contrast compared with nothing and radiates a light on a sometimes despondent state of affairs.

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