These past two weeks I have been enjoying getting back into the gym. I’ve been training in the garden for the past year and so I was delighted to be in the warm and familiar environment of the leisure centre. But as I walked back into the gym I took note of a few things. It felt so good to be lifting some real weight, but I was mostly glad to be around real people again. I noticed that other gym-goers were feeling that way too. Everyone was smiling and interacting, so I made the radical decision not to put my headphones on as I usually would. It might not seem like much but this meant I would be forced to listen to the terrible gym music instead. But because my ears were now open I found myself having a conversation with someone I hadn’t seen for months. We talked for about forty minutes about the pressures of lockdown, what our current training plans were, but also how my faith was important during this time. I wouldn’t have had this conversation, nor the ones that have followed since unless I had made myself open to others.
I have really enjoyed seeing places opening up again following the lockdown. We’re not there yet, but I feel a real sense of hope coming through the conversations I’ve been having. But that’s the exciting part for me; we’re having real conversations again. Not through a screen, but real face to face contact. We still have masks to wear and distances to respect, but conversation is becoming possible once again, and with conversations comes real opportunities. I’m impressed by Paul, who upon arriving in the city of Athens, chose to spend time in the marketplace and the synagogues (Acts 17:16-34). He did this because this was where the people were, and so these were the places he could have those crucial conversations. It was because he went to the people that the people brought him to the Areopagus and a Church was born. But it started with conversations. This is a difficult challenge to balance considering the need, still, for social distancing, and that we have been encouraged to actively avoid each other for a year now. But I’d like to encourage you this week to safely seek out a conversation. There is a lot of need at the moment, and I believe people are open to more than usual. Perhaps God can use you this week in beginning a conversation, and perhaps that conversation will lead to more.