Invitation is the key

While traveling with fifteen teenagers around England I have rediscovered the value of connecting with people; those I already knew and those for whom the only limits to cultivating friendship is a matter of geography and time.

I have learned that people are simply waiting for an invitation – an invitation to share the story of who they are, which is always a sacred gift.

I me Richard, our Polish bus driver in London, who responded graciously to our request that he play his accordion for us. Then Macik, also from Poland, who chatted freely about his life as an immigrant and the life he has as a bus driver.

In Cornwall we met Dean, whose knowledge of local customs, culture and real estate laws fascinated us. We learned that our bus driver had nine homes and seventeen motorbikes ( one in his kitchen and one in his living room), and that he had become a clinical psychologist after earning a degree from Oxford. He shared how distressing it had become to absorb the pain of other souls and so he listened to his wife and chose a different field of work.

A mother traveling with us discovered the warmth, generosity and hospitality of folk who saw in her an openness to connect and so offered her gifts of wine, shrimp curry, and Cornish Lust liqueur in three separate encounters in the same day.

People are created good. We want, nay, we need to connect , to discover our shared humanity and then, through our listening and sharing of stories, discover our mysterious and vital bond. For it is only once we respond to the invitation to share our stories with each other that we can truly begin to care for one another.