I’m currently sorting through stories of the past year. Of people I’ve met along this journey, those I’ve told and some I have not for various reasons. Maybe they looked sick and I didn’t want their illness to make it seem as though I had singled them out or that my prayers were a kind of substitute for feeling sorry for them. Others I just flat out may not have been in a tellin’ mood.
But others – a few I told and walked away indeed with a story or a request, or if nothing else a moment where they stopped making change and smiled, nodded, and felt like someone had noticed them in a very Hey you are someone special kind of way.
Here are a few questions people have been asking me a lot – How do you do it? Do you ask their name? Do you actually stop them in public?
Answers: I don’t know. Always. And, yes.
I don’t think you have to tell someone for it to matter. It will matter to you that you have opened your eyes a little wider to what is going on around you.
If I choose to tell – it’s just about like this always. I don’t want to. Like diving headfirst into a chilly creek – one just like the Econfina Springs in Florida in my teenage days. Fact was: No matter how hot the August day, or how many screaming, laughing friends with me, I just didn’t want to jump in that water. And the fact is: I still don’t want to jump into the water of someone’s life even if I am basically only brushing the sleeve of their existence. I do it anyway. I just jump in.
I ask names because I think they are important although I’ve also quickly told people that they didn’t have to tell me their name at all.
And then I say a few words about their uniquely standing out to me and that I was saying prayers for them before I went to sleep. (I think that takes the pressure off of them thinking I’m going to somehow embarrass them in public.) Occasionally, I ask if they have anything special they need and many, many times they say – Yes.
There’s nothing safe about the telling. Or about this life. Every person you meet, embrace, speak to or silently pass with a reverent blessing will be as individualistic as you are. And so will your ensuing experiences.
But if all your prayers for strangers are whispered in silence at the end of a long day filled with life, lamentations, and love, then carry on.
We all need each other in the best way.