Monday, November 03, 2008

Conversations - Smith Meyer

I found one with an interesting twist. It seemed to come about quite without any conscious effort on my part. All of a sudden, it took a sharp turn—and there it hung—suspended between the two of us—waiting for the next instalment or chapter as surely as the book held in her hand.

Conversations...I love conversations! That’s probably because I like people. I find the infinite variety fascinating.

Conversations beautifully reveal facets of the one with whom we’re conversing. Face-to-face conversations (the best kind) conveniently can be held in many places—waiting rooms, across counters, in buses, cars, trains or planes, at work, at school, at meals, in living rooms, dens or even beds—you name it. You don’t need any special equipment that you need to lug along. We’ve all been given a set of ears with which to hear the words and most hearts can be trained to listen for the unspoken parts.

Conversations are held at different levels depending on our relationship with the person. Most conversations can be nurtured by a few questions or understanding comments or turned off by a thoughtless remark.

This particular conversation happened over my book table. People had been milling about and I had given many inquirers the same little spiel about the book if they looked at all interested. This customer had asked what the book was about so I assured she wanted to know. When I had finished, she asked, “And is there any Christian stuff in it?”

“Well yes, there is. The main character’s faith carried her through the difficult times she faced.”

“I might get the book for my daughter. She’s into that. She’s so spiritual she even wants to be a missionary. I don’t know where she got it from—not from me! I think I will buy the book. She might like to read about this woman.”

“I think she might. You see in all the difficulties the woman in the story faced, she could have resented her lot. I think many people would have—I am sure if I, in her circumstances, didn’t have anywhere but myself to find strength I would have become bitter.”

There was a pause. Up to this point, the conversation had been mostly about her daughter. I felt the next sentence before it was uttered. Oh I couldn’t have told you exactly what was coming, but I knew the next statement was going to reveal something.

“I’ve had to go it alone for almost twenty years.” It was somewhere between a confession and a defence. “My children are nearly out on their own now.”

We had a little more conversation then as I put change into her hand I gently suggested, “Why don’t you read it before you give it to your daughter?”

My heart was touched with sadness. My prayers have been haunted by the memory of her pain. In that short exchange I sensed the super-human effort she had put into doing the best in her power for her children. There was pain and anguish, loneliness and, yes, bitterness there too. I dare say she was feeling the tiredness that comes when we are nearing the finish line. There may even have been some wondering about what to do with life when her main attention no longer needed to be focused on giving her children a good start. Her life and mine became entwined in that one twist of a conversation. She will remain in my prayers.

Ruth Smith Meyer, author of Not Easily Broken

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