Have you ever been in a large crowd and felt alone? There are so many people around you that you can touch and feel, yet you don’t say hello, nor know their name, and you are conscious not to have eye contact with them for fear that you might have to say something. Nadine’s daughter and boyfriend live in Brooklyn, NY and were here for a visit this last week. They were both saying the same thing about being in such a large city and having absolutely no conversation with their neighbors. You live right next door to someone and not know who they are or where they come from or what they do. Their complex has used social media to connect by setting up a Facebook page for all who live in the complex so that some kind of community can be set up in case of an emergency. The problem is that none of them know each other.
Yesterday, Nadine and I experienced another kind of community. I am in the lottery to get Masters Golf Tournament tickets each year and have never been picked–until this year. We decided with our free flight miles to head to Georgia and experience this wonderful tournament. We stayed in Atlanta and early on Wednesday at 2:30 the alarm rang for Nadine to get up and get ready for the day (I take 5-10 minutes to get us and get ready, need I say more). With coffee in our veins, we headed out for the great adventure of going to the last practice round before the tournament started.
We parked our car with 10s of 1000s of other cars and made our way to one of the most beautiful places we had ever seen with lush grass and blooming flowers. It was a maze of people spreading out all over the rolling hills of Augusta National Golf Course. We were there for about 3 1/2 hours when a harsh horn sounded which forced the practice rounds to stop and we were told we needed to evacuate the premises and sit in our cars to wait further instructions as to whether we would be allowed back on the course.
It was in our cars that community began to develop. We began talking to a couple from Arkansas and from Houston. We found out that two of them were in the insurance business, one was an accountant, and one was an OBGYN nurse. They wanted to share their snacks with us as we began to tell stories of our past history and how we got to the Masters.
After waiting 1 1/2 hours in the car, the course was going to open and so we ventured out into a long line where it began to pour with lightning and thunder. As we were standing in the rain with multiple umbrellas over our heads, we met two men from Scottsdale who happened to be YoungLife leaders who happened to know our son’s YoungLife leader and a wife of one of our church pastors. In a sea of 10s of 1000s, community began to form. It was as if we met new friends from all over the USA when we began to open up the conversation.
On this journey, you never know who you might meet if only you take the time to say hello and ask a few questions. Who knows, a dear friend might emerge if only you take the plunge to introduce yourself.