I suppose I’m a limelighter too. Otherwise, why this blog? But, typically, when in a group, I look for a good comfortable spot within the woodwork.
My niece had a birthday party at my sister’s house a couple days back. A group of about 15 people were there. My sister’s youngest daughter has a passion and a gift to make sure that everyone is included, so she would pointedly ask questions to the quieter ones at the table to bring them into the group conversation. As part of this process, she asked me several good questions and, to my great annoyance, I was tongue tied. I could stammer out one or two words and only after the attention went to someone else, I could think of something to say.
But on my trip, I’ve been able to listen to others without any coercion to converse. At the continental breakfast nook I heard one stranger talking to another man who, moments before, had been a stranger to him. “I’m so sorry to hear you mom died. My dad died about a year ago. I was surprised how I didn’t take it all that hard. He lived a good life. He was almost 100.” The desk clerk (I think he was also the manager of the Hotel) came in to greet the three of us in the continental nook room. “Good morning,” he said. No response. (I never respond) “Good morning,” he said again. I looked up and saw he was Indian. I nodded at him and smiled an acknowledgement. The talkative man looked up and went on with his conversation. “I don’t know why they call this life. We’re all dying. And it goes so fast. They should call it like ‘short term life’ or ‘this is your moment.’" The man continued, “I’m not a theologian or nothing. But I really like—do you read the Bible? I know I swear like a sailor, but I really believe this stuff-- Well, there’s this Psalm 121: ‘I lift my eyes to the hills, from whence commeth my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.’ You think about that.”
Before going to back to my room I did go and talk to this Indian man. I could tell from his accent that he was an immigrant. “Where are you from?” I asked. He told me he came here from Mumbai ten years ago. I told him my son-in-law was also from Mumbai. He asked what my son-in-law did and I told him. “But,” I said, “his brother returned to India.” When I told him he was working for a Christian organization, his faced dropped. Perhaps he had already encountered too many Christians America. Perhaps like me, the limelight was not his thing, but to be disregarded was not his thing either.