It’s Spring Break week and I know that means many of us will be out of our usual routines this week, and some will have a mostly normal week with bigger crowds when we go run errands. No matter what your thoughts are on Spring Break, I do hope you will consider taking my ‘Spring Break Challenge’. A challenge that encourages us to take time to connect with one another on a different and deeper level this week.
Before you read any further, I feel I should disclose something to you. Over the past month I’ve finished reading “Exactly As You Are” (a book about Mister Rogers written by Shea Tuttle) and “The Sacred Enneagram” by Christopher Heuertz. I’ve also enjoyed a girls weekend with my three best friends (that I’ve known since 3rd grade) and I’ve attended a 5 day Spiritual Retreat focusing on the life and teachings of Trappist monk and mystic, Thomas Merton. In case you don’t know me well, the above information should both intrigue you and terrify you all at the same time! It basically means that my headspace is really quite interesting at the moment!
So, all that being said, here’s my Spring Break Challenge for you (that my Mr. Rogers watching, monk reading, childhood friend influenced headspace has created) and I hope that you will take a break from your routine this week and give this a try.
- Stop what you are doing.
- Choose someone (your child, spouse, friend, family member, coworker, neighbor, or even a stranger).
- Notice them. Really notice them. Observe them. Learn about them. Look at them. Really SEE them. Connect with them. (People have so much wonder, joy, sadness, worry, and excitement to share and we rarely stop long enough to truly feel it with them. Sometimes people have all of those things in the same moment! Let’s commit to taking a break from our busy schedules this week and make space for this connection, even if it’s just for a few moments.)
- Now ask them a question (or two).
This past Sunday morning I talked to the kids about Thick and Thin questions, and I began wondering what it would be like if we spent some time over Spring Break connecting with each other through thicker questions.
Here are some thick question suggestions for you:
- What is your biggest dream?
- What can you tell me about the last book you read?
- What can you tell me about the last time you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe?
- When was the last time you cried and why?
- What do you want to try that you’ve never tried?
- What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
- What is your biggest fear?
To be honest, I don’t even know if I could answer those questions for myself right now (actually, I can answer #2, #3, and #4, but my answer might change by the time this blog gets posted)!
- And then, WAIT and LISTEN to this chosen person with your whole heart. Just listen. Don’t judge their response. Observe them with your eyes, your ears, and your heart. Really learn about this person. Be patient with them. Refrain from sharing your story in return, just truly crawl into their story and look around a bit. You might be amazed at the way you will connect with them.
- Thank them for sharing their story with you. Remind them what a blessing they are in this world and to you, just by being who they are. Remind them they are a beloved child of God, just the way they are. Pray for them. (Either ask them if you can pray with them or pray alone after you’ve walked away from them.) Thank God for giving you the courage to initiate a deeper connection with someone else and for giving the other person courage to connect more deeply with you.
I hope this challenge leads to some deeper, meaningful connection for you this week. In the meantime, I leave you with these quotes from the most recent books I’ve read (this is me answering thick question #2):
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” – Mr. Fred Rogers
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” –Thomas Merton
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” –Mr. Fred Rogers