How well do we take the time to know others and to allow ourselves to be known?
Recently my wife and I were traveling on a mission trip to Haiti, and I stopped at the book store in the Chicago airport to pick up something to read on our flights. I glanced over the classic novel shelf and saw “Sherlock Holmes” looking out at me. Seeing that the price was less than most books there, I snatched it up. By the way, this is a great book and very readable over a century later, and our modern crime-drama characters owe a lot to their predecessor on Baker Street.
What strikes me about the book is how keenly the detective was able to perceive the mannerisms and motives of people from all backgrounds, and from those clues deduce their story and the needed resolution to their current crises. Upon being challenged by Dr. Watson to glean information from a hat left behind by a complete stranger, Holmes casually remarks:
“That the man was highly intellectual is of course obvious upon the face of it, and also that he was fairly well-to-do within the last three years, although he has now fallen upon evil days. He had foresight, but has less now than formerly, pointing to a moral retrogression, which, when taken with the decline in his fortunes, seems to indicate some evil influence, probably drink, at work upon him. This may account also for the obvious fact that his wife has ceased to love him…”
If Sherlock was able to know this much about a man he had never even met, just by examining his hat, how much more can we know about our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors if we will simply take time to slow down, observe, and really listen? That is one of the aspects about Haiti and similar countries that is so inspiring. People might live in material poverty, but they also have time to have a good, long conversation, and because of that they can also read you and your emotions like a book! Can we do that? I think we can, if we care enough about others to take the time.
This Thanksgiving weekend, ignore the busyness for a while and sit down with someone for a good, long talk. Really listen to him or her and try to truly understand, and then share some of your own story, too. In doing so we may find ourselves growing closer to Christ, the One who knows us fully!
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully know.” – I Cor. 13:12