I’ve known them as Canadian honkers for as long as I can remember. Geese with a distinctive sound.
Every time we come to Fort Collins, we see them en masse. Usually in the park.
This year they’re everywhere.
When we first got here, they were ushering around their young. Fuzzy goslings protected by a stern mama who leads them where they need to go.
The family dynamic is wonderful to watch. The parents appear diligent in patrolling and protecting their young.
They’re all big now. And let’s get real. They’re annoying. And loud. Stray too close and they can be downright mean. They’d as soon nip at you as defer to humans who ignorantly cross into their territory.
And they’re messy. With as many geese as we have hanging around the apartments, we have a plethora of poop on the sidewalks and parking area.
Even in the volleyball court. AKA sandbox.
Not a problem if you’re watching where you’re going. But averted attention often means offensive shoes. Or bare feet.
Such messiness on a small scale is inconvenient. When life gets messy, though, annoyance rises exponentially.
I’d never compare people with Canadian geese. Well, maybe a few. I can’t relate to these fowl. I have no language capacity to engage them. And no real need to even try. I can easily avoid them if I watch where I’m going.
People aren’t as easy to navigate.
Those who are like me, think like me, like the things I like, engage in life as I do, are easy to be around. It’s not hard to find areas of agreement. It’s uncomplicated to flex with folks like me.
It’s a different story when I’m around people I’m not familiar with. I’m a friendly person, but I find I can easily stick my foot in my mouth when I’m around people of different cultures. Different ethnicities. Not that I don’t want to enjoy, appreciate and value them. But my filters and perceptions come from a story very different from theirs, and I’m not always couching my responses in ways that are received the way I’d like them to be.
With the world shrinking with technology, I’m able to know and work with people I’d never have had the chance to know even ten years ago. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people from around the world and find our differences make working together more powerful than our samenesses ever could.
Is it messy? Yes. Even awkward at times. Do I still experience foot-in-mouth disease? Often. But choosing to embrace the difference in people, valuing the diversity, gives me a chance to grow beyond my own margins.
Jesus called it being a neighbor to those around us. Being ready and willing to help others in need, no matter who they are.
I may not be able to connect with a honker, but the language of relationship is a willingness to listen. And love.
That’s a path worth navigating.
Even if it is a little messy.
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