I had never met him before in my life. The circumstances were strange to me as well and at first I was not that comfortable. I know I can be a little odd and am not the world’s most sociable creatures at the best of times, but this environment certainly made me more inclined to withdraw.
Yet I chose a great place for it. It was in the corner of the room where there was a settee that could seat two and the TV was near me. My position meant that I wasn’t naturally engaged with the major conversation going on, so I could play dumb if I wanted without sticking out like a sore thumb whilst doing so.
Did I mention it was a settee for two? Well there was indeed a second person on the settee and there he was. This geezer I had never met before in my life. OK, I said to myself, I don’t have to do much here. He looks just as petrified of engaging with others as I do. I can just keep it casual and minimal. Just small talk. Just chit-chat. Nothing heavy.
Three and a half hours later we shook hands and shared how much we looked forward to seeing each other again soon. It wasn’t the typical ‘thank God it’s over’ kinda pleasantries either. It was mutually warm, much more than merely cordial.
What happened in those hours? The power of conversation. Surface stuff at first, gently checking each other out. Respecting the other’s space. Not looking to be too nosey. Eventually common interests were discovered. Roles were quickly identified – one asking the questions, the other at ease on a subject he enjoyed anyway. Any cold that may have been in the strange relations at first more than warmed over with engagement and verbal intercourse of a very friendly nature.
I certainly hope it is not the last time I see him either, because the beauty of a good conversation is that it leaves you hungry for the next conversation.
I won’t be winning Mr Social awards any time soon, but that encounter was typical of how God has enabled me to get over my shy and retiring inclination to really engage with others. The power of the conversation remains such a vital tool for me to be about the business of sharing life and sharing love. It is something for which I am forever grateful.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden