Last weekend, my son and I finished reading an amazing book together which brought me to tears. Recommended by my friend, Lanie, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, follows the journey of a little boy named August through his 5th grade school year. What makes his year especially unique is up until 5th grade August has always been home schooled, and he’s been home schooled because he was born with a severe facial deformity that required countless medical procedures and a safe haven from people’s often harsh judgments of him.
A beautiful element of the story line is the kids who befriend him. His gentle, genuine spirit gradually draws the students to him. One of them, named Charlotte, offered up my favorite quote from the book:
“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”
Well said, Charlotte. It reminded me once again of how important it is to take the extra step beyond an easy wave out the car window, or a ‘hey’ at the mailbox, or a cordial conversation and truly take the time to notice a person – who they are, what they value, what they might need. I’m convinced that a single act of noticing can begin to embrace an isolated world. Why?
My sister-in-law, Karen, recently had an experience of taking that extra step. She and her husband, Jeff, went out to dinner with some friends. When they arrived, they all hugged one another in greeting. A woman – a complete stranger – approached them and said how lovely it was to see them hugging one another. She expressed how she missed being hugged by her children and how she loves hugs. So, what did my sister-in-law do?
She paused, she noticed, and she asked the lady if she would like a hug.
The woman said yes, grabbed ahold of Karen and hung on and on and on.
People are often desperate for being heard, being noticed, or even receiving a touch, even if they have to get it from a stranger.
August’s gentle spirit can show up in all of us, like it did in Karen, if we simply slow down and take the time. I’m sure I would be surprised to find that some of the people I pass by on a regular basis might just need a little encouragement but I’m often speeding by in too big of a hurry to even notice.
The calendar flips to August this weekend. What timing. August is the month all Seattleites usually live for all year long and when it arrives, we want to make it count as the change in fall weather looms. I want to make my August count. I want to use it to slow down and practice noticing the people around me, being sensitive to who they are, what they value, and what they might need. Perhaps even offer a hug. I want to imbibe a gentle August spirit.
I’ll be taking a bit of a ‘blogcation’ this August, focusing my time on experiencing instead of writing. I’ll be back online in September. Have a wonderful, blessed rest of the summer.
Have a wonderful experience of August.