By April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
My husband and I had a lovely night out on Saturday, spending time together at Dinner in Santa Barbara and a concert afterward. I was thinking Saturday morning that I would attempt a little experiment and that I would go out on the town and try to be more “intentional.” To me, this meant that I would go out intending to connect with someone, have a conversation with them, and maybe make a new friend.
I planned it out in my mind. I would chat up the person seated next to me. I would start with an icebreaker, make small talk, and then ask them about themselves and just listen, but that wasn’t exactly how it went.
First of all, my husband and I ended up with aisle seats on the third row to the furthest left of the small theater. Then, strangely enough, there wasn’t a single soul seated next to me or even in the near vicinity. We were literally all alone on our row. There wasn’t even anyone in front of us. Then, during about the third song, there was a sudden mass movement in the audience where people from the back started to relocate (they must’ve known something we don’t), and about four people came and sat on our row. The man next to me left the seat next to me open making my attempt at being intentional all the more difficult.
Okay, I thought to myself, I will wait until the break and then I will make conversation. The break came and everyone got up. The man next to me turned his back on me completely and entered into a long conversation with the other three people in his group. Then, I looked around and noticed that virtually everyone in the audience was doing exactly the same thing. Huddled in groups, they presumably were comfortable with the friends they had come with, although I wasn’t sure if that was the case or if they were all season ticket holders who knew each other. So, I sat in silence during the break watching them. I felt like I wasn’t part of their community.
I’m not really a novice at this. I’ve made connections on airplanes, on buses, on trains, and in grocery lines, but this time, I felt like I did in high school when I wasn’t allowed to eat at certain tables in the cafeteria. So, I laughed silently to myself, this is my attempt at being intentional!
Then, I realized something about myself. I realized that I would remember the people around me because I had noticed them. Even now, I can remember some of the interesting faces I saw and that meant that in noticing others, I was aware. So, I put aside my insecurities about my own feelings, and I prayed. I prayed for a lot of the people huddled in their little groups. I prayed that they would be open to God and to others. I prayed that they would open their hearts and be more aware. I prayed over the whole crowd. Then, I smiled to myself. It was my little secret, this clandestine prayer mission that went on inside the mind of the lady seated on the third row. No one but God and I were in on it, while the rest chatted, unaware of the secret, invisible good will being rained down upon them.
So, was my attempt at being intentional a failure that night? Maybe not, if you believe that a change in one’s own heart will sometime, somehow make a real difference to the world. Maybe not, if you believe that prayers are like spiritual rainbows that collect in the misty atmosphere of life and bring with them the promise of microscopic droplets of peace, hope, and grace. Maybe not, if you believe that God honors all prayers including honoring them for the one praying as well as the ones prayed for.