While my world is covered with a blanket of snow and ice,
I find myself reading and thinking, musing and marveling, learning and listening in the silence.
Tires crunch outside my window as cars slowly go up and down the roads
and my thoughts travel up and down the passages of my short life.
In the midst of my simple wanderings online
I happened to discover a new friend. John Woolman, a Quaker who lived in the early 1700s.
with a heart to know people.
During the French and Indian War he spent time alone with the Indians
Not just learning facts about them or collecting interesting information.
No, he spent time studying them and getting to know them at a deeper level
His heart to not simply know about
but to know
stirred a fire within me.
He wrote in his journal, “It is good for thee to dwell deep that thou mayest feel and understand the spirits of people.”
Dwell deep. Mysterious words in out fast paced and often superficial society.
But words that brought back memories of a shining moment.
It was winter of 1993.
I had recently adopted my oldest daughter and was spending a few days in Moscow
finishing up paperwork, etc.
The simple flat where I stayed with my newly adopted baby girl was owned by a young couple.
They spoke very little English and I knew only a word or two of Russian
but somehow we managed to understand each other.
One night after eating some delicious Russian Borscht the husband waved his hands
asking me something.
I watched his eyes and followed his hands as he described playing a game.
Would I like to play a game?
Would I? Most certainly but could we? Could we understand each other well enough to play a game?
Over the next few hours I discovered that we not only could
but we had the most wonderful time.
Laughter. Fun. Good will. Relaitonship.
Although without a common language we discovered a mutual desire.
It was amazing how close we all became that night while out little babies slept in the other room.
Later that evening as we were putting the game away
the pretty young wife presented me with a small present.
At the time I was speechless with surprise and the unexpectedness of the moment.
They both watched silently as I tore off the paper and opened the small white box.
My eyes fell on a lovely necklace and a flood of gratitude swept over me.
In that minute suddenly I wasn’t halfway around the world from home.
I was with friends.
There was genuine care and deep understanding.
Love one another, the Master says, and this means going deeper into each other’s lives.
Wading out past what we know about someone
into knowing them. Working at it.
Touching hearts one person at a time.
Dwell deep so that I may understand.
I am surrounded by people that I don’t know very well.
Oh I know some of their habits. When they leave for work. What time they come home.
But I don’t really know them.
Language is a problem
but then I remember back to that time years ago.
Even language can be overcome.
‘Dwell deeply so that you may feel and understand’.
Yes, it’s a challenge. It won’t be easy but this is my world.
How about you?
Will you join me in dwelling deeply with others too?
May the One Who holds us all in His Hands strengthen us to take that first step.