Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why I Talk To Strangers

Probably more than 20 years ago I dated a man named Larry for a short while who, in retrospect, was the most unlikely of matches. He was, and I assume still is, very nice, kind, serious, committed to his beliefs and a professional musician who'd been raised in New York City.  Some of the differences in our outlooks on life,Larry attributed to his big city sensibilities.  The one that bothered me to the point of seeing it as near insurmountable problem is that I talk to everyone and he felt no trust for, or desire to converse with, unknown people who walked by on the street. One time we drove from Salt Lake City down to Arches National Park in south central Utah and, of course... got a little off course somewhere along the road.  A little off I-15 we found a small town, probably Price, and as he parked to study the map (no GPS back in the old days!) I rolled down the window and asked the man walking by for directions.

Oh. My. Goodness!!  I got an earful about that!  Larry told me not to talk to people I don't know because you never knew which one was going to be a rapist or murderer.  He was sincerely concerned that my actions were going to get us mugged.  As a small town native, I was perfectly comfortable and felt safe striking up a conversation in this environment.  It was surely a lesson in perspective.  For the rest of the time we saw each other I tried to be respectful of his wishes but... well, lets just say I wasn't always successful in keeping my mouth shut.  And I still talk to strangers everywhere I go to this day.

Just today I had the most wonderful conversation at Hobby Lobby with a woman named Randy.

If you had any idea how many needles and crochet hooks I have... you'd understand my amusement at the irony of finding myself on that isle.  But the ones I've had forever are packed away and I don't know which box.  It seemed so much easier and sensible to just spend the $3.50-ish so I could make a birthday present for my sister-in-law-to-be than to spend hours, maybe days, dragging boxes out of the storage room and sorting through them.  So... that's why I was at Hobby Lobby this beautiful Saturday morning.  Randy was already on the same isle looking at yarn needles when I walked up and she seemed to be having a really rough time deciding what size she needed.  I was standing back patiently waiting my turn to pick up the package I'd decided on.

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After a few minutes, she turned to me and asked "Do you know anything about quilting?"

Quilting is not really my crafting forte but I do know the basics.  My mom, aunts, both grandmas and I'd guess all the great-grandmas quilted so I've been around quilts up on the frames since I was a small child.  I've even helped with a few of those quilts.  Figuring I could possibly say something semi-intelligent about the subject, I asked her what she was making.  And Randy went on to describe the most amazing project the ladies' auxiliary at her church does on (I think) a regular ongoing basis.

They make prayer quilts for a local hospital.  Each quilt is personalized with the recipient's name.  That's done with a fusible pellon type product and then embroidery thread or worsted weight yarn is pulled through on a grid.  If you're a quilt person, you probably recognize this is how you "tie a quilt" to attach the back and batting to the top.  But the neat thing they were doing was just putting the threads in place at this stage.  Then the quilts were placed over the banister in their church's sanctuary and as people pass by they say a prayer for that person to be healed or comforted or whatever and knot one of the ties.  I LOVE the idea of making a personal investment like that!

Randy went on to tell me a little bit about her church and to invite me to their quilting activity held the 2nd Saturday morning and every Wednesday evening of the month.  She also shared a bit of her personal conversion and walk with Jesus.  I walked away with a new friend and her phone number and... I might just go quilting one of these Saturdays.  After I figure out where Buford is and how to get there.

Now Randy practices a different faith than I do...  but I was so impressed with her courage to express her faith and invite others to participate in such a simple and everyday situation.  So many times I've been in church meetings listening to everyone say how uncomfortable they were with sharing the gospel.  And feeling that sick gnawing in the pit of my own stomach.  The fear that someone won't like us is almost overwhelming.  Today's encounter showed me just how easy, and fun, it could be to put  "every member a missionary' into practice.  Now if you are a Mormon it's likely you've also had that phrase strike the same terror in your heart.  But see just how easy and natural it can be?

1 comment:

Val said...

I love this! My father in law talks to absolutely EVERYONE! I am always amazed what my friends will say to him in 10 minutes that I never knew...and they are MY friends. I wish I was able to do this more. Keep it up!