We hadn’t expected it. Didn’t think it could happen.
John and I had different perspectives going into this cruise. My introverted husband, who’d just gotten back from ten days overseas, had a lot on his mind, a lot of work to catch up on, and a sense of exhaustion.
I’m more the extrovert, but I went into this adventure with a lot on my plate and a sense of pressure for things that had to be done.
Neither of us was looking to have deep conversations with anyone other than each other.
Yet that was the gift of this trip.
We were assigned tables the first night. Having never done this before, and being rule followers–when it suits us–we sat down with three couples we’d never met.
Jim and Mary from Illinois, Doug and Joelle from Minnesota and Dave and Connie from New Jersey.
Four different couples with four very different life experiences.
The first night we got bare bones stories. Kids, jobs, a little bit of background, a little bit of the unique.
Day two we gravitated to the same table. Didn’t know there was a choice. But these people drew us in. Made us want to be with them.
Day three one of the couples was with friends on the cruise. More time to focus on the few.
We moved around the table each night, sitting next to different couples. Talking across a table of eight in a dining room filled with 1,000 people makes conversation a bit of a challenge. Sitting next to new friends alleviated anyone feeling left out.
Day four we were three couples again. Digging deeper. Hearing hearts.
Day five we were all back together. Talking like we were all from the same neighborhood. We’d established common ground that embraced all of us. Similar hearts and values.
An unexpected extra in the midst of a new adventure.
At a time where social media takes away much of the eye-to-eye conversations that have often been the building blocks of deep relationships, having the opportunity to engage with new people with no expectations was quite amazing. No agendas. No predetermined view of one another. No need to worry about wording or filters because we’re new to each other. A relaxed environment, time to talk, opportunity to listen.
I find it so easy to rush. To hurry from one thing to another. Allowing my busyness to direct conversation–or limit it. In the middle of a large body of water as we moved from place to place, folks weren’t going anywhere. There was a willingness to “be”.
Our last night together felt like we were parting from old friends. We shared emails and numbers, desiring to stay connected.
These people touched my life. Their stories impacted me. I’m better for having been with them.
God didn’t make any of us islands. To hunker down in our little worlds and only engage with others from a distance. Those relationships have value. But speaking face to face with another person allows me to listen with intent, not doing something else, hearing intonation, watching facial features.
Being with others grows me. Helps me value others. Better.
Even in the middle of the ocean.
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