We are scared. We are all frightened at times, but I think we are scared of people. We are so afraid of people that we use things to protect us. While sitting in my local Panera, I noticed that all of us had some object to protect us. I had an ipad protecting me as well as my salad. One gentelman had a newspaper and some device connected to his ear buds. Another had food, laptop, and phone protecting him. Some had only a phone. Some were protected by papers. Still another couple was protected by food, two phones, laptop, and a paper notebook. Another man was so vigourous in consuming his salad that no one would dare approach him. His shoulders were hunched over, his head down. He ate quickly. He had what appeared to be a Bible with him. He did not open the Bible while he was there, but it seemed to give him protection none the less. I wondered if he had brought it in case he had to wait for the food. He moved very quickly to leave after inhaling the salad.
There was one woman who was just eating. Yes, she had food, but she looked around. She was eating alone. She did not try to hide behind anything. She was not afraid. She was the exception. She was okay to let her thoughts wander. She was okay to allow other people to see her. She did not need to hide behind other people, activities, or things. She did not appear to be in a rush. She sat and ate her soup, bread, and iced tea.
I wonder, with my empty salad bowl, how often we fail to enjoy the moments because we are so busy protecting ourselves with things. Our things insure that we will not be approached by another person. Our things assure that we will not be left alone with our thoughts. We are safe from everyone because of our things. There is no chance to interact, to be vulnerable, or to be exposed. They won’t make eye contact with us because we are looking at our things. They won’t talk to us because we are busy with our things. We won’t be rejected because we have already rejected them. Our things are more important than them. We don’t need them. We are fine with our things. Or, so we try to tell ourselves.
The truth is that our things – electronic devices, papers, books, food, or anything else, gets in our way sometimes. We need to have moments where we are vulnerable and exposed to other people. We need times when we are open to ourselves to let our minds roam. My friends, take courage. Do not be afraid. Put down your things and allow yourself to be vulnerable to others and yourself. We may find in our vulnterability that we are changed.