Our daily interactions matter. As a high school teacher, I get very little personal interaction with adults. I spend most of my time with students, and even most of those encounters last for the time it takes to chew a small bite of sandwich.
In those moments when I do get chances to interact with adults, they usually have the taste and consistency of white bread, too. The exchanges are flimsy and hurried. Often, I find myself cutting a conversation short because I’m thinking about whether or not I can make it down the hall and back before the next bell rings.
This morning after a staff meeting, we were charging back to our classrooms to be ready for the second bell and to administer the first exam of finals week. On my path, I bumped into a teacher whom I see perhaps once a month. He teaches on the other side of the building.
While walking, he craned his head back and asked, “Have any summer plans?”
“Canada,” I answered. Both of our steps slowed, maybe a fraction of a second.
“Really? How long?”
“Not sure yet.”
He may have uttered a “Cool!” before turning down a connector hallway. Yep, that was it.
But it was enough to get me thinking tonight. Faces of colleagues have been coming to mind, faces of those who, at different times in my 12-year career, intersected my path when I was going down a long, difficult hallway of my own. This particular teacher’s kindness and empathy popped on my radar screen many years ago, though I’ve not seen him very much since. But afterward I felt prompted to send him an e-mail and reconnect. Just to tell him that his time mattered.
As these different faces came to mind, so did thanksgiving. I believe God puts exactly the right people in our “hallways” at exactly the right time.
Sometimes turning around and looking into someone’s eyes is all it takes to insert enough space to let a person and a moment matter. The focused challenge for me is to walk my crowded pathways just as Jesus walked along His crowded pathways.
I don’t believe that Jesus, despite being knocked and jostled about, ever accidentally bumped into anyone.