The other morning I set out on my morning walk and decided to go around the lake. When I got there I saw a family of nine geese enjoying the morning sun. One goose, who was likely the leader, held his head erect, watching over the flock and looking for signs of danger.
I guess I don’t pose much of a threat, I thought as the geese all went about their business as if I wasn’t there. I stopped to take a photo, then walked closer. Suddenly they all burst into flight. They only traveled a short distance to the middle of the lake, then splashed down. Ah! Safety from afar!
I thought about a meeting I attended at church about reaching people effectively. Churches want to engage with new people and invite them in. It probably won’t happen, however, as long as that is the focus.
It has been said that people who don’t attend church may feel like they’re facing a castle with a moat. They may be unsure how to get “inside” the gate–or whether they even want to. The church can’t offer its message of love, joy. hope, and healing if the building itself is like a wall separating it from people on the “outside.”
People of faith have to share their faith by stepping beyond the confinement of their walls. They have to share life with a focus the uniqueness God has given each of us that is only apparent when it is shared. If someone decides to cross the moat and enter the castle, it will be because they found the love of God that removes the moat and opens the gate.
I think about how similar that is to selling books. When I’m at a book table I try to make eye contact with people walking by. I usually ask, “What are you reading these days?” Most of the time they seem surprised at the question.
I often wonder how they will respond. Will they pull back, or turn away? Sometimes they do. They may take flight by avoiding eye contact, and therefore conversation. When they do connect, however, it becomes a positive process of finding common ground. I don’t have to sell books–books sell themselves when people share a common ground where the books reside.
When people take flight to avoid a conversation, they frequently “spash back down” nearby, like geese on the lake. Sometimes they linger and listen. They may even come back to talk.
Taking flight is a natural defense in the face of the unknown or unexpected. “I’m busy–no time for this,” we tell ourselves. Perhaps we’re afraid to let people into our world. Maybe we’ve been hurt, and we try to isolate ourselves. Maybe we’re just highly focused on a task and resist being distracted.
I expect all of us “take flight” at times, and hopefully we “splash down” again as soon as possible. I believe some of life’s greatest blessings come when we splash down with openness of mind and spirit. A “splash down” can be an enriching, life-enhancing experience!