Monday, December 05, 2005

Get to know each other

A few days ago, I attended the memorial service of someone who had been a long-time member of my church, although I didn't know her that well.

It was a lovely service, in an old New England chapel of all white painted wood and candles. Nothing ornate, just simple and rather dimly lit and serene. Several people read and spoke, including her son-in-law, daughter, and husband. Apparently the circumstances of her death weren't especially easy, and the family was quite honest about this. But most of the offerings told of what a wonderful person she was, how she loved everyone she met and meant a great deal to all those whose lives she touched.

I left, as I often do on these occasions, wishing I'd known her better. We have so few flickering moments here on this earth together, I suppose I can never expect to know everyone as well as I'd like. And I believe this experience here is not the final statement on us, either, so there is infinite opportunity after we've moved on to get acquainted. Yet I still felt I'd missed out on something special.

It's made me look about me with wider eyes. I've been privileged to meet so many amazing people—my family, in school, at work, at church, in California, in business, in the healing practice, teaching Sunday School. The delight I feel at discovering the exceptional in someone else never fails to inspire me.

I'm not going to feel that unless I get to know them, though! I have to take the time to make the connection and deepen the conversation, so the extraordinary is revealed. And in all the times I've taken the time, I've yet to find someone who's not extraordinary. Everyone has something to say to me, to teach me, if I will listen.

To me, this makes sense. God is infinite. And what does infinite mean, anyway? I used to think infinite just meant very very big. Like, it's way out there, and to discover it all I had to travel, far, to get to experience it. But now infinite to me also means digging deep, learning more and more details about something or someone. There are infinite things to discover right at hand.

God is infinite. The person right next to you, then, as God's image and likeness, is also infinite. There's no limit to what we can find out about them, what we can appreciate and celebrate. And what a blessing to find a like-minded new friend, a soul connection, in the most unlikely spots.

So yesterday at a church open house, I got to talking with one of my fellow members who has only been an acquaintance until now. She had also been at the memorial service, and I told her what I'd taken from it. She understood. And we each on the spot made an commitment to getting to know each other better.


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