I've always considered myself to be a "make eye contact and smile" kind of person. Strangers or friends, it makes no difference. I learned from my momma to be friendly. I wonder just how many times she quoted Proverbs 18:24 to me -- "A man who hath friends must show himself friendly . . . " Mildred Collier was the very definition of a friendly person. I've shared with you before how she fixed herself up to go to the grocery store because she anticipated getting to visit with folks on every aisle. My momma could carry on a conversation with anyone, anywhere.
All of that to say that beginning in March of 2020, the "smile" part of my usual demeanor -- along with that of every other person in the world -- became invisible, thanks to mask mandates. I understood. We were in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, and it was wise to take every possible precaution.
During those early months, the "eye contact" part pretty much disappeared, too, because we wanted to hurry into the grocery store and hurry back out again trying to avoid as much human interaction as we could. If we DID recognize someone behind their mask, it almost certainly meant at least a short conversation . . . which meant more possible exposure . . . which was dangerous.
Then, as vaccines became available, I started to notice eye contact coming back again. We were HUNGRY to see and spend a few moments with our friends. We hoped to determine if we knew the person we were passing as we both still wore our masks. We learned that we could communicate a good bit with our eyes IF the other person cared to make the required eye contact. We could be excited, empathetic, funny, happy, or sad with our eyes . . . and our words . . . and our body language.
Fortunately, most of the people I come in contact with now have been vaccinated and boosted. The masks, for the most part, are off. We are free to resume our friendly natures, even so far as giving big hugs again.
Lately, though, Steve and I have found ourselves in a new-to-us environment. We've been at community spring flings, First Friday nights, street festivals, and other bookselling/signing events along with other vendors. Some people are curious enough to go to every vendor table examining the goods for sale, asking questions, and making conversations. Others prefer to walk down the middle of the street in a noncommittal posture, giving only furtive glances at what is available at various booths. Some come up very directly and say, "That book is something I'd like. How much is it? Please give me 2 of them. I have a friend who'd love a copy." There are others, of course, who come to your table, promise to come back, then you never see them again. I know the type. I've been ALL of these types in the past. In these settings, it is actually very easy to become invisible. You see them, but they don't appear to see you. Surreal. Revealing.
If anyone gives me half a chance, I kick into my usual self, making eye contact, smiling, attempting to engage with a person. Yes, I'd love to sell a book, but even more I'd love to interact with someone new, find an opening for sharing my faith, tell a funny story about my family, give a word of encouragement.
It all begins with eye contact.
Let me encourage you to open your eyes to those around you. It's safe to see them again.
Matthew 6:22 -- "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,"
Psalm 119:18 -- "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."
Proverbs 20:12 -- "The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both."
Mark 8:25 -- "Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly."
2 Kings 6:17 -- "Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."
Ephesians 1:18 -- "Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,"