Wednesday, 16 March 2016

40 Acts - day 31: 'Beeline'

In some countries, towns and societies, talking to the people you meet – passers-by, shopkeepers, fellow commuters – is entirely normal. Expected, even. You might not be a natural talker, but think of it this way: everyone around you is a valuable person with his or her own life, experiences, struggles and stories. Every friend you have today was a stranger once. So make a beeline for someone today and strike up a conversation.

His disciples said, ’What are you talking about? 
With this crowd pushing and jostling you, you’re asking, “Who touched me?”
Dozens have touched you!
Mark 5:31 The Message

The wonderful (if a little bleak) website Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows has an entry that bears quoting in full:

Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Today's act is about talking to strangers. I'm going to say you could do much worse than carry that made-up dictionary entry in your head all day as a reminder that each passer-by has their own story. The dictionary might call the quote an 'obscure sorrow' but to me there's something deeply good about it, something that opens us up and turns us outwards. Whole situations and opportunities are unlocked to us if we choose to say 'I'm not the main character in this street/shop/café.’

This year I've joined my church's outreach team. As an introvert, it isn't my feel-good zone. There are a good 30 seconds at the start of each conversation when I can come up with a million ways to exit.

In all this, I’ve found the Gospel stories of Jesus’s interactions with stran gers a real boost for me. The Gospel of Mark in particular is a relentlessly busy account, full of the hassle and push of daily life – and relatable for that. There's power in the stories in part because of how ordinary the settings are: a bustling street, a pool, the road out of town, Jesus' own home. In those places, Jesus reaches beyond himself and the busyness, and makes space for complete strangers.

Challenging my sense that wherever I am is 'about me' has led to great moments of encouragement and support that just wouldn't have happened otherwise. Where I'm primed to be rushed, bustling and blinkered, I'm learning – slowly – to be available and vulnerable to those around me. I hope you're able to do the same today.

Today's blog was written by Joel Leakey from UCB. 
Find out more about them and support their chosen charity here.

To see today's challenge in full - click Here

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