It was a simple message scrawled on our flip chart and I wondered about how strange or weird it might look to a passerby. But I was committed to trying out our exercise of inviting our neighbours into conversation and really listening.
Samantha-Gray (my poodle) and I took our spots on the church benches by the sidewalk just after the Thrift Shop closed on Friday. We intentionally didn't call out to people who walked by, we just sat and waited -- but not very long.
"What a great idea" someone said, "we need more of that" ... pointing to the sign and walking on. A young 4th year UVic student who lives in the neighbourhood was out walking her new puppy and stopped to say hello and visited for about 15 minutes about her studies and her interest in youth at risk. We had a shorter visit with one of the social workers from the Victoria Community Project and several others just stop to pat Samantha on the head and say thank you to the two of us for being there. Of note was a good long time of listening and sharing with a person who had walked to James Bay from View Royal to take in the beauty of the day. She sat down with me for over 30 minutes to tell me her story. It only took a few questions to get her started and I believe we have made a deep connection with each other.
What a liberating experience to be able to offer a real moment in someones day ... and to be able to receive that moment of connection that goes deeper than a pleasant smile, hello, lovely day today, ... to think that we might see someone and be seen.
AND it was easy. So easy. We just sat with our sign and waited.
If YOU would like to have this experience of being a James Bay Listener, please talk to me. I can help you get started. Do it for you ... it was THE most relaxing 90 minutes of my week.