Thursday, March 16, 2017

Just Talking: Thursday's Reflection

 Last week I was part of a group from our church who attended an Immersion Experience at Lutheran Social Service's Center for Changing Lives. Staff members informed us about a variety of programs and ways we could be involved. We also helped serve a meal, which is offered free every Thursday. To anyone. No questions asked. No qualifications. No forms to fill out. Just come and you will be served.

I sat at the welcome table, greeting each guest, asking them to sign in. I looked at their hands. I looked into their eyes. I told them I was glad they were here. "Enjoy," I said, several times.

When it was my turn to eat, I sat next to a woman who lived in the neighborhood. She was talkative and was interested in what brought me to the center. After briefly explaining why I was there, I  I intended to ask her what brought her there, but she launched into a different topic. 

She told me about receiving a new cell phone and going to a class at the library to learn how to use it, and how grateful she was. She told me she no longer owned a television, but that meant she could read more. We talked books and movies. We had a light and friendly conversation. 

As a spiritual director I believe in going deeper. I try to ask questions to help my directees understand more about themselves and the movement of God in their lives. I believe in the power of sharing key stories and listening below the surface. 

When it was time to say goodbye, I wondered if I should have been more probing, if I should have invited her to tell me her story. Did I miss an opportunity to be a listening ear for her? Did I miss a chance to learn something about what it means to be poor and aging in this country? Should I have tried to connect on a deeper level?

Here's what I think. Sometimes what is most authentic is to just be two people together, enjoying a meal of roast chicken and salad and fruit. Sometimes the most human thing we can do is have a pleasant conversation. Two women who both love books and movies. 

An Invitation
When was the last time you talked with a stranger? What did you learn? About that person? About yourself? I would love to know. 


  1. What a great reflection, Nancy! Isn't it a fascinating choice to either delve deeper or just let the conversation natural go where it will. We were thrilled to have you at the CFCL!! amy

  2. Thanks, Amy. It was an honor to be there. You and are colleagues are inspiring and impressive.


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