Both my grandfather on my mother’s side and my grandmother on my dad’s side never met a stranger. They talked in depth to everyone they met. While I have tried to apply their same philosophy of “never meeting a stranger,” there are times when I revert to my shy state and hold back.
During my recent trip to Texas, I decided to embrace the “never met a stranger” mentality and talk to as many people as possible.
There are several reasons for throwing caution to the wind and speaking to “strangers.”
- To get out of my comfort zone
- To focus on other people
- You never know whom you will meet
- People are fascinating
- To learn about different cultures, thoughts, and philosophies
One individual I met, Lisa, was the featured musician at a Christian Women’s Connection luncheon I attended. She sat at our table, and although I was a guest myself, in an effort to help her feel welcomed, I peppered her with questions. (Not sure if that helped put her at ease).
While I didn’t ask her age, I surmise that she is in her late teens or early twenties. Since she walked in the room carrying a violin case, I asked her if she played in the orchestra. She stated that she played for and managed both the Longview Youth Orchestra and Kilgore College Orchestra.
The lady who sat to my left was Mrs. Wilson, my former piano teacher. (Yes, in my youth I took piano lessons – let me emphasize the TOOK). She introduced Lisa to the group, and Lisa then took her place at the piano where she graced us with a performance of Bach’s “Prelude in C” – by memory none-the-less.
Personally I am a sucker for live music. Well, that is if the person or band playing the live music is good. My jaw dropped when she began playing. I could have listened to her play the piano for hours, and in my opinion, that song didn’t last long enough. Gazing around the room, I could tell that the other women were also moved by her music.
As a precursor to the special speaker, she shouldered her violin. The strings echoed one of my favorite hymns, “It is Well with My Soul.”
During the luncheon I overheard Mrs. Wilson mention that Lisa could play a number of instruments. This intrigued me so I asked, “How many instruments do you play?”
She replied, “Well, I play woodwinds, percussion, brass, and the bagpipes.”
“You play the bagpipes?”
At this point my former piano teacher piped in, “There’s not an instrument that you haven’t played. Well, you probably haven’t played the penny whistle.”
To which Lisa replied, “Yes, I have.”
Hearing this list of instruments she could play, I was stunned. Actually, I think I was in awe. So I asked the next logical question, “Did you take lessons, or did you teach yourself?”
And her response left me more in awe. “I took piano, violin, and a little guitar, but I learned most of the instruments on my own.” She sort of chuckled and then stated, “There aren’t a lot of bagpipe teachers in the area.”
Internally I wondered, “How is it possible to have that much talent, and be able to teach yourself how to play any instrument you come across?” As quickly as that thought crossed my mind, the parable of the talents bubbled to the surface of my brain.
We are all equipped with God given talents. Some use them for good, some use them for bad, and some, for various reasons, leave them on the shelf too afraid to cultivate them.
Obviously Lisa not only cultivates her talents, but she also uses them for good. And the more I conversed with her, the more she inspired me. Although I have always tried to use my God give talents for His purposes and to glorify Him, there are times when I have allowed fear or discouragement to sideline me. But meeting people like Lisa can be refreshing, and God can use those moments of interaction to remind me to press on.
I have no doubt that some day in the future Lisa and I will cross paths again. Most likely by then she will have learned to play the newest instrument invented. And after peppering her with additional questions I am sure that I will once again walk away from that conversation – inspired to press on.