This past summer, my family and I went to a local gelato shop after dinner. We were escaping the Dallas heat and enjoying our refreshing treats inside the bright little cafe, when two families walked in with several little ones in tow. I couldn’t really tell how many families there were, or who belonged with whom. The noise of their talking and giggling filled the room, and the older kids ran to the glass showcase to press their noses against it while carefully examining all the flavors and colors available.
I watched as one mom guided two children toward the counter while she steered a stroller with a third child toward a table to get their seating arranged. Once the right number of seats were pushed together with the stroller, she walked a few steps over to meet her people and help place orders.
I couldn’t resist looking in the stroller, as it was so close to me. Inside was a gorgeous baby girl with the deepest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. She had perfect pouty lips, long eyelashes and flawless, dewey, dark chocolatey-brown skin. And she was smiling at me.
She instantly pulled me in. All in.
While her mom was directing the rest of the family, I had a full conversation of coos, goofy noises and laughter with this precious infant. I barely noticed when her family had come alongside me to join in on my silly conversation.
Her sweet mom, fair-skinned and blue-eyed, engaged quickly and easily with me as I asked about her adoption process. She gently corrected me that they hadn’t adopted, but instead were foster parents to this beautiful baby. As we all enjoyed our gelato, she was gracious enough to answer my questions and to share their story of fostering.
I left the gelato cafe intrigued and inspired. This woman was a breath of fresh air – vulnerable, unassuming- yet elegant, full of grace and love. In a fifteen minute conversation, I could see all of these things so clearly, and it reminded me of the value of sharing a few tender moments with strangers.
Why not? Why not put our phones away and talk to our neighbors like we used to do (back in the day!) Why not show kindness to someone in the coffee shop, strike up a conversation with someone in your spin class or dialogue with the next person in the donut shop? It’s always fun to make the world a little smaller with sweet, unexpected connections.
My new gelato friend and I had shared a lovely conversation and we connected with ease, but I knew she went to a different church, her kids went to a different school and our families are in different life-stages with our kids, so I appreciated the moment for what it was: a moment.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, and a mutual friend shared one of my Facebook posts on her own timeline. My gelato friend saw the post and remembered me (it helps to be only one of a few small number of women in Dallas with very short hair!) She went to my page, read a few of my posts and blog and then reached out to me privately, wondering if I would remember her.
Her message began, I think we met at Pacuigo this summer…is that you?
Instantly, this sweet memory flooded my mind, and I couldn’t respond fast enough!!! Yes, Yes, it’s me!!!
With just a few more short messages we arranged a meet-up to get to know one another with only a “feeling” that we might enjoy a friendship together…and today we met!!! (You see how excited I am? I’m writing about it, and I can’t even go to bed!)
What happened for several hours today was so encouraging to my spirit and soul. We sat in her home and shared life stories. We had so many things in common, and we built on a shared foundation of faith, understanding and respect. We each listened, asked questions, learned more and offered hope for some difficult situations. She seemed like an old friend, and this was only the second time we had ever spoken.
Don’t you love when that happens? It doesn’t happen too often in life, so we typically notice and savor it when it does. I’m definitely savoring the sweetness. And, I just bet we’re going to be friends for a long time…which really just gives me one more reason to love gelato (as if I needed one!)
I wonder what would happen if we all slowed down a bit, noticed a person standing near us and struck up a conversation?
Of course, we’re not always going to have an instant connection, but what if we all did it with the simple intent of discovering just one single point of commonality? What if we could find that in each person around us, wherever we went?
I suspect the world would seem a little smaller, a little sweeter, perhaps even a little more unified. I think we might even feel a little more known, maybe even more understood, and possibly even a tiny bit more loved.
These days of fast-paced get-it-first, don’t-miss-it rapid change, you-snooze-you-lose keeping-up-with-the-Joneses are sacrificing something much sweeter: connection with our neighbors.
We can’t continue to let these moments pass us by. We’re missing opportunities with people, and we need to stop missing them. We need to slow down and love our neighbors better, but we have to introduce ourselves to them first. We’ve got to seek understanding, compassion and unity, and we must be present to lift and encourage those around us who need it (and don’t we all need it?)
Here’s a challenge for you, friends. Within 24 hours of reading this, will you take a chance and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Find one thing you have in common and celebrate it. Savor it together. Because we NEED more together in this world, and because we’re the ones who can be the change. We can start it. #SpurOn
By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)