Line-ups. Busy people. Pre-occupied. Impatient. Disinclined to engage. Detached. Rushed.
I was in Toronto the other day and I guess that the impersonal nature of the place left an impression.
Yet how easy it seems to bring down those walls with a smile, a simple courtesy extended, a favour performed, a willingness to listen for a few moments. People may not admit it, but they are craving recognition, affirmation and a sense that they matter.
These are difficult economic times with looming threats of shut-down, depletion of savings, rising prices, reduction of community services and increasing irrelevance of the advertised lifestyle. Our media, politicians and business movers simply do not know what the average person faces in the "new economy". They do not speak for us or listen with pure motives.
In the midst of it all a tremendous service can be rendered by those who exhibit a willingness to stop, listen, care and render simple acts of encouragement and help.
I remember a time when the departure of children from our household left that heavy sense of the "empty nest". The old motivators and routines were gone. One day in prayer I expressed my sense of aimlessness and the response in my spirit was quite surprising.
I sensed the Lord saying "adopt the world". Not in a gargantuan way, but in simple expressions of love and affirmation. The kind of love that fired up Jesus every day. The kind of love that seemed so easy with one's children. Now to be extended, with a certain sense of adventure, to others beyond the circle.
How this might transform a neighbourhood, a community, a treadmill.
(Picture "Lending a Listening Ear" by Gail Sawatsky)