A little girl innocently walks up to a man sitting quietly on a bench in the park as she has chased a butterfly that landed next to him and she asks him if he noticed it too. But chasing behind her is her mother who, after a sheepish smile to the man takes the little girl’s hand and walks away with her, whispering that it was not safe to do what she did because that man is a stranger and “We don’t know him, so he could be dangerous,” asking her to never do that again.
Moving back to the original example of the child approaching the ‘stranger’ in the first paragraph. It is this gorgeous openness and willingness to connect with others in a tender way that is so innate in children that we are threatening when we impose an image of anyone outside our family as a possible danger to us. Imagine the difference it would have made for that man sitting on the bench if he would have been able to share that magic moment with the little girl of a butterfly landing right next to him, feeling safe enough himself to do so, a reflection of his own knowingness that the ‘stranger’ was not a threat, instead of what transpired above, leaving the gentleman wondering, “Do I really look that scary?” or “I wonder what’s wrong with me that the mother felt to rush her daughter away from me like that?”
There have been countless times where I have struck up a conversation with one of these ‘strangers’ at the local tea shop, in the grocery store, or even in the lobby at the garage waiting for my car to be fixed and have experienced some really touching and expansive conversations that left me feeling so much more connected to people and trusting that at our core we all have so much love to be shared with each other when we let down our guards and allow ourselves to feel it.