I was sitting in the theatre lobby today after a movie, absorbed in my phone to see who was winning the Rogers Cup tennis matches. And then … “Hi, Mr. Kerr. What are you doing here?” It was a soon-to-be Grade 6 girl from the school where I volunteer.
I had a nice chat with “Sofia” and her friend and her mom and her friend’s mom, talking about cool movies and the girls’ plan to sleep in a tent tonight. Afterwards, I thought about Sofia saying hi, how good it felt to be acknowledged, included. Kids have a fine agenda – hang out with their friends. Sometimes they feel like including adults, and often not. It’s a privilege when they choose to approach me. It would have been so easy to have just kept walking but Sofia chose to do something that brightened my day.
On Tuesday, I was walking out of the locker room at the gym, with “places to go, people to meet”. I saw “Jeremy” on a machine. He didn’t see me. I didn’t stop. Jeremy has some sort of handicap, mental or physical, I don’t know. In the car I saw very clearly that I hadn’t included him. If instead it had been a pretty woman whom I knew on that machine, would I have said hi? Gosh, I don’t like to see myself as a person who rates people and then decides whom to talk to. The bottom line is that saying hello is a gift to both people and withholding that gift is a distancing that the world doesn’t need.
Decades ago, I was crossing a parking lot in Lethbridge, Alberta when a woman of Indian or Pakistani origin simply said “Hi” … looking deep into my eyes. The experience of contact, of communion, is still vivid today. The gift was given.
Such a simple thing to communicate “I see you” in word or action. May I simply choose to do that when Jeremy, or anyone else, comes my way.