I’ve just survived another Welcome Week in Bath and have mostly recovered from an intense time of conversations and encounters with new students and providing lots and lots of tea and cake. I love how open everyone is at this time of year and how responsive they are to expressions of kindness, even if it is exhausting.
On campus, this feels easy and natural and expected. However I noticed that I needed to push myself a bit more to summon up the courage to drop round some cookies to the two student houses opposite our own home. Because I don’t think it’s commonly done (at least not around here) I wasn’t sure how I’d be received, but both groups of students, you’ll be glad to hear, were very happy to receive some home baking.
If literally crossing our road to bless a demographic that is different to my own is a bit tricky, what hope is there for crossing really serious divisions?
In this national and it seems, global, political climate it feels more important than ever before to reach out to those who are different to us and to refuse to allow ourselves to become entrenched in any position without first trying to understand those on the other side of the road.
And the side of the road reminds me of the story Jesus told about people refusing to cross over to help someone in dire need (in Luke 10) and about the most unlikely person who did. Our neighbours are not generally people that we choose to spend time with; they are the people that we run into on life’s road. We might not always be prepared.
(In the midst of writing this, I’ve just responded a bit rudely to yet another scam call on the phone. Was he my neighbour? I think, by my own definition, he was. Oops.)
One thing my current job has taught me is that I really like meeting people who are different to me. For example, I even genuinely like Maths students. Because I was invited, this morning I went along to a Math’s lecture on ‘Ordinary Differential Equations & Control’ and, although I didn’t understand much, I wasn’t bored.
There was wisdom and inspiration for me amongst the equations. Here are some ‘road- crossing’ things I heard:
- We believe in differential equations because they work. (I wasn’t expecting to hear the word ‘belief’.)
- It is possible that you won’t understand some things until after the lecture, when you’ve had time to think. (I love that students are being encouraged to ponder.)
- The reason that we have lectures because students need to see someone else working through the problems. (What a great model for parenting or preaching.)
If I can feel enthusiastic about a Maths lecture, there is hope for all sorts of unlikely road-crossing adventures ahead. I’m sure that practice makes perfect, or at least makes us more ready to respond in the way God invites us to, not missing the opportunities for grace along the way.