How important is it to reach out?
Dave and I are traveling across the United States in our RV – hence the ‘Coaching from the Coach’ Blog-name. As Catholics and Christians, we attend Mass on Sundays, visiting different churches around the country. We have heard some great preachers and then again, some not so hot.
We were in South Carolina a year ago in the summer, and the priest asked us to stand up so we could be welcomed! My poor husband doesn’t really care to have attention drawn to himself, so he was squirming but afterwards admitted it was nice to be welcomed like that. After Church, I asked the Priest if we stood out like sore thumbs, and he responded, “I know my sheep.”
Speaking of sheep, when we were in Sonoma, we were able to see an amazing event. There are only a few sheep farms in Arizona where the sheep are herded to Phoenix for sheering once a year and then herded back to the Williams area. We were fortunate enough to witness them crossing a river near where we were staying. It was amazing, especially this one sheep that fell. The shepherd stayed next to her, to prevent her from being trampled by the others, reaching down now and then to rub her head. I thought she was a gonner – would have to be put down.
When there were only about a few dozen of the 2,000+ herd left, he gently lifted her onto her feet and she proceeded across the river with the last stragglers.
He apparently knew his sheep too.
Now we're in Menifee, about an hour south of Los Angeles. Dave was looking up churches for us this weekend, finding one not too far away that was ‘bi-lingual’. We’ve attended some Spanish Masses in a pinch but its not our preference because our vocabulary is so limited. Wondering the difference between that and ‘bi-lingual’, we decided to go.
The church itself was shared-space with a Moose hall. There were no fancy stain glass windows like what we found in Santa Barbara’s Mission. No ornate wooden pews – closely assembled folding chairs, which were nearly all occupied at 8:30 on a Sunday morning.
We were warmly greeted by those who sat near us, some in broken English and others in their own language – Spanish. I really enjoyed this; some congregations won’t even make eye-contact, let alone hold hands for the recital of the Lord’s Prayer. So many people smiled at us and we felt so welcomed, even though the Gospel was the only bi-lingual part, in both Spanish and English. It was a good message! The Priest did speak a little slower, which helped me to catch more of what he was saying in Spanish too!
A very small choir, lead us in some great music too. No fancy robes or expensive organs – just two guitars and four singers worshiping in song.
On the way out, a lovely older woman with extremely limited English thanked us for coming. She said that they loved when English speakers attend and try to learn a bit of Spanish. Since I had spent time in South America, I do have a very limited vocabulary, but did try a little out and her smile beamed as bright as the sun! I really felt welcomed by her!
When we left, the priest also took time to chat with us. I noted that his Stole was crocheted – I’d never seen that before.It was so simple and humble! Most of the Stoles I've seen are rather ornate, with gorgeous silks and vibrant colors. He shared that a woman from the church had made it especially for him. I was very touched.
I left there wondering about my own behavior. How do people feel around me, not just in church but everywhere? Do I stop to smile and say hello? How about just eye-contact?
I found myself being more open this week, chatting with the clerk in the store and smiling at people that we’d see on our walks, bike rides or shopping. Life has become so impersonal with texting, emails, and lack of personal contact. I’m going to try to reach out more. Smile. Make eye-contact. Say hello.
It feels good!