Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Human Connection

 While on holiday in Wales, a woman hikes a highland trail looking for a well known, oft visited, waterfall. In this country, the land is private but allowance is made for people to cross, come and go, by way of public footpaths. While crossing fields and fences, the woman looses her way. She sees a cottage and a man sitting on the porch and walks closer to ask for directions.

"Can you tell me where the footpath is?"

"Aye, you're looking for the way to the waterfall."

"Yes," she answers and he gives her directions.

She thanks him and continues on. She never finds the waterfall, but she does find a lovely tree to nap in and spends her afternoon in the splendor of a Welsh forest.

On her way back, the man is still sitting on the porch. They wave to one another and he calls her over.

"Would you like some tea?"

 She accepts his invitation and learns he is on a spiritual retreat. She too is searching for answers and as the two engage and enlighten one another, she finds insight to her quest.

Oh how I want to be walking along a footpath and have someone, even a stranger, ask me to sit down for tea. The encounter, the concept is so enchanting.

I have been thinking of this story for one and a half days, when I take a dusk-time walk in a Chicago neighborhood. I imagine passing my stranger--there is a wave and an invitation, "Would you like some tea?"

"I would love to have tea with you." We would then engage in our own enlightening discussion.

I see how hungry I am to learn and understand; I see how much there is to learn and understand. I see how I crave human connection.

When I see a "Black Lives Matter," sign in the berm of a yard, I want to meet the homeowner and ask about her passion, her disappointments, and the movement that's rocked a nation. Do black people want white people to post signs? Is posting signs for black people only?

I pass a home with a sign to fight prejudice against Muslim refugees.I want to stop and listen to this story while sipping a cup of tea. Is this homeowner a refugee?  I wish I could tell her my refugee encounter with Muslims in Athens. I want to speak of the same love of the same God with just a different name. I pass by the house three times hoping someone will come out on the porch and invite me to sit for tea.

The house on the corner has a bridge, a waterfall, a gazebo and little paths throughout. The sound of water, the twinkling white Christmas lights create an enchanting garden. I loop past it four times hoping someone will notice my admiration and invite me through the rose trellised arbor for a tour.

A day later, I see my chance for human connection, and it is through children. Ezra sees three children playing across the street and wants to say hello.

"Let's grab your sidewalk chalk and ask if they want to draw."

We are across the street in less than 60 seconds.

"Hi, what's your name?"

"Rebecca." I learn she is five years old. A few minutes later, Jacob introduces himself and less than five minutes later, Ike, the mom comes out and says hello with a plate of watermelon. If I lived here all the time, I am sure she would be my friend, and many more days would be spent tracing leaves on the sidewalk.