Praying for Strangers A few days ago I was standing in the grocery store when the music playing through the speakers kicked off a song that always makes me want to dance. It’s pretty much a mindless pop song that many might not care for but my body immediately wants to respond. It’s a tune by the group Fine Young Cannibals title ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ which has no correlation to anything other than the fact I remember them playing it one week on 30 Something when it was a hit tv program in relation to one of the episodes. And the song for whatever reason has always made me want to dance. And it made me want to dance that day in the grocery store. I wanted to break out in spontaneous boogie whether anyone did or not but doing my best to maintain a little dignity at all costs I willed my feet to stay flat on the floor and the other parts of my body to concentrate on the bread aisle wheat or white? Whole grain or multi-thousand grain? Sourdough or cinnamon? But here’s the thing – the man standing next to me did it. He broke out in boogie. I saw him out of my peripheral vision walking past him. He was even singing along. I tried not to look at him at all. I certainly didn’t want to smile at him. And I didn’t want his . . . what? freedom maybe – to taint my . . .what? dignification? I’ve never been worried about being dignified and I try real hard not to worry about what people think of me too terribly much because that can lead to all kinds of traps and boxes forever falling down the rabbit hole to perfectionism and pleasing others. BUT – the man kept dancing, I think I heard him speaking to a woman who was asking him questions who might have been his wife, who was not dancing, and who maybe was wishing he would stop this silliness in public. I made it safely out of the bread aisle and gathered up my list of items and headed for the door. But I couldn’t help feeling that I had cheated myself out of a moment that mattered. Just one silly moment in a multitude of otherwise boring moments in my life where I’m just running errands, crossing t’s, dotting i’s. I should have danced. Really I should. Even if it was only for the first few lines of the song.
The thing is I wanted to and stopped myself from doing so. And it’s exactly the same feeling I have when I want to tell a stranger that I pass that they stood out to me as someone special and that I will be thinking of them, offering a special prayer of blessing for their life before I fall asleep. So many times, for whatever reason, shyness, business, fear that I won’t be well received by the person, stops me. Or wins out if you will against the other side of me that feels compelled to make a short, sweet connection with another human being. I miss the chance of the dance. And not a single time where I’ve felt compelled to connect with someone and overridden that impulse has it not haunted me. I still offer the prayer but just like that silly pop song, the image of that person keeps playing in my head.
So my prayer today is that all those embracing this strange idea to offer up a prayer for a stranger will be a little bolder when we are led to connect with someone to follow the music of our hearts – not our minds. The results of that freedom might just astound us.