Earlier today my husband and I sat in our local coffee shop gazing through the huge double windows and people watched. Having been married 16 years and being comfortable with each other we no longer feel like we have to punctuate the silence with nervous or unnecessary chatter. We do talk, we talk a lot, he is still my favourite person to be with but this morning we just took in what was going on in the small snippet of life in front of the coffee shop.
And it was a very varied vista(alliteration). From elderly couples hand in hand to harried mothers dashing by to school girls nonchalantly sauntering to school after the late bell . Also it was raining and in my opinion that makes a difference to people’s moods and agendas. I am a pluviophile. I love the rain. There is nothing better than being tucked up all cosy inside while the downpour carries on outside. We live in a part of Europe that is well-known for its rain. That is why we have such verdant valleys and lush green fields. However when it rains people hurriedly dig in their handbags for that forlorn umbrella they vaguely remember putting back in their bag last week after it dried. It is as if the rain is an unpleasant surprise to them . And I want to ask them if they thought of looking out of the window to check the weather before they left the house.
I digress, when you take time to look beyond your surroundings there are all kinds of things waiting to be noticed. A smartly dressed woman, almost trotting along the pavement, either late for work or some kind of rendezvous. Young mothers with babies in pushchairs wearing bleary eyes that are testament to their lack of sleep the previous night. The old man, stick clasped firmly in hand, striding purposefully along.
Sometimes we give these people a story. The balding, overweight man in a crumpled linen suit with an air of annoyance becomes a retired opera singer, still bellowing out his order in a tenor voice to the coffee barista. A slightly harassed looking woman with just a hint of a skirt hem unravelling is actually on her way to an important interview with the potential to change her life. The coffee barista who looks so content and efficient is actually mentally counting the money in his bank account and planning to be a cruise ship entertainer.
There are people we come across in our every day lives who challenge our perceptions. The beautifully made up girl incongruously serving in the Macdonald’s drive through. She wears false eyelashes and hair extensions and manicured fingernails with the treble clef symbol tattooed on her arm and is paying her way through music college because the scholarships were all taken.
You would imagine that church was a safe place where you could be yourself but in reality people pick up their masks at the door with their hymn books and don’t drop them till they are safely home again. To be real costs. Church is a place where people from all sorts of backgrounds that wouldn’t usually mix are thrust together. Jesus was loving and accepting of people where he came across them but we’re not . We like our beggars clean and our alcoholics washed. Shame on us that we can be more a brood of vipers than the Pharisees.
Lately I have been challenged about listening to people to hear them and not listening just for a gap in the conversation to interject. I confess I don’t find this easy. Even when I’m trying to concentrate my mind has a tendency to wander and often my train of thought derails. I interrupt people mid flow. I don’t like this and I’m trying to stop this so please tell me , nicely, if I do it to you.
Till next time.