“People are hard to hate close up.”Brene Brown (Braving The Wilderness)
Love comes wrapped in many unique packages. I’ve been sweetly reminded of this in the last two days. Yesterday I went out to dinner with some friends. The conversation flowed. The laughter never stopped. Our dinner was finished, our bill was paid, and our leftovers were boxed. We still sat around the table and chatted for twenty more minutes!
On Valentine’s Day I was awakened by a text from a dear friend announcing that she had left a surprise on my door step. She had gotten up at the crack of dawn to deliver Valentine surprises to her friends. My reaction was twofold. It made me want to return the favor to her and others. It also reinforced the lesson that I have been learning in my later years that love does indeed come in many packages – from small gestures to grandiose surprises.
I have especially learned this through travel. There are many more good, loving people in this world than bad. For example, the people of Morocco are notorious for their hospitality. They stop their daily schedule, without hesitation, just to share a cup of mint tea and some conversation with you! While teaching at the international school, I was showered with warm greetings, hugs, and kisses each day from my students.
When I first arrived in Morocco I was advised to learn some Arabic greetings. I was excited to learn the native language because I believed that a smile and a greeting was important to become more acquainted with others. You get interesting responses when you smile at a stranger. Most people are snapped out of their daily stupor (remember we are usually living in our heads), waking up to return the smile. Others warm up to the smile and tentatively respond. Others just look away.
The first time that I greeted a Moroccan stranger was surprising. A Moroccan lady was walking towards me as I walked my dog, Katy, down the street. As I passed her, I greeted her with a smile and the customary Arabic greeting that I had learned. She stopped, smiled, and returned the greeting and then enthusiastically continued the conversation in Arabic. She was eagerly wanting to converse but I had a one big problem. I only knew the three words of the greeting! She realized that that was the extent of my vocabulary and said “Ahh”. She then smiled at me, stepped towards me, and planted a kiss on each side of my face and walked away. I didn’t know what to make of that in my humiliation. But I think we both tried to come a little closer to one another in spite of our differences.
So… I firmly believe that’s it’s impossible to hate a person close up. We are all in this together. We are all made in God’s image. He loves all of us and is repeatedly encouraging us to love and be loved. So this week, pay it forward. Listen to your inner voice and be intentional about spreading love and goodness to others. Let’s be part of the healing of this frazzled, polarized world.