Cross-cultural relationship encounters enrich our lives when we least expect it. I had one the other evening, even though it happened in the context of a disappointing change in attitude from a trusted friend.
It used to be before I walked out the door for a brisk early morning walk I would check the Weather Channel app on my phone. Each morning, no matter how sunny, rainy, hot, snowy, cold, blustery, or calm the day, the Weather Channel would greet me with “It’s amazing out there.”
I loved her optimism. It was just what I needed to get moving. To experience this amazement though, I had to first get “out there.” And that’s the challenge because I so want to remain “in here” where life is safe, comfortable, and predictable.
Apparently things are not amazing out there anymore for my friend, the Weather Channel. She decided to drop her enticing call to lure us to the amazing world out there.
Maybe it’s the coronavirus, or the current racial tension that caused the change. Or maybe it’s all the calls to “stay safe” ( I’ve come to really dislike this phrase, but I digress.)
But while it’s no longer amazing out there for the Weather Channel, it still is for me. For one thing, it’s amazing what you can see in God’s creation. I’ll leave that for poets to describe; they need the work. And I’m not a poet and I know it.
I also know there are amazing relationship encounters out there just waiting to enrich our lives. The one I had a few days ago started when I was on my knees pulling weeds, out there on our front lawn. An African-American girl, I’m guessing 12 years old, came walking down the street with what appeared to be her younger sister. They suddenly stopped, turned to look at me, and the older of the two asked,
“Did you see the deer? Do you know where they are now?”
“I didn’t seem them this time, but yeah, the deer are all over. A lot of times you can see them over there near those trees,” I said pointing to the other side of the road. Deer are numerous in our suburban neighborhood. My wife calls them big rats. They eat our plants.
“You don’t think they’d mess with us, do you?” the girl asked with a concerned look on her face.”
“Oh, no, “ I said. “They’re afraid of people. You don’t have to worry.”
Looking relieved, she and her sister continued on with their walk.
I continued pulling weeds, this time with a smile. I so enjoyed this moment of innocence in our cross-cultural conversation. I delighted in the contrast between the girl and me. Different ages. Different skin colors. Different genders. Different life experiences.
I admired the boldness of a 12-year-old girl asking me, a stranger – an old white guy, about something she feared (“they won’t mess with me, will they?”) And I enjoyed allaying that fear in some small way. It gave me a brief measure of pleasure to make a difference in this girl’s pleasant summer evening walk. No effort or planning required. It was amazing. It was joy.
I savored how this conversation took me back to fond memories of my daughter when she was 12. Full of innocence, just like this African-American girl at her age.
This delightful cross-cultural relationship encounter never would have happened if I weren’t out there, pulling weeds, one of the great nuisances of life. It wouldn’t have happened if I had been so into myself that I missed an opportunity to do a small bit of good in the world (“They’re afraid of people. You don’t have to worry.”)
It really is amazing out there. We just have to be out there, available, and watching for it.
How about you? Are you up for it? Can you crawl out of your in-there to participate in what’s amazing out there? The world needs you to contribute to the amazement.
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Still wanting to hear something? Give episode 31 a try from a year ago, “The Rhythms of Our Relationship with Time.”
It’s about the start of summer and the new relational rhythm it can create for all of us. Click here to listen.
There's more to come next Wednesday. In the meantime, you can browse below through 3 seasons and 67 episodes of You Were Made for This. Season 4 resumes September 9th.