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The Rev. Charles Lamb: Art of conversation is falling by the wayside

While taking a bus trip, I got into a conversation with the man sitting beside me. I asked him what he did and he said, “I am a bodyguard. I protect people.”

I found that very interesting. He said he was on the way to a certain city to meet a wealthy man who needed protection. When I asked why he didn’t take the plane, he laughed. “With all the weapons I have on my body, I’d never get through security!”

Then he asked what I did and when I said I was a minister, he started asking questions about what I believed. First he asked how I felt about women becoming ministers. When I said I thought that was fine he said, “Humph!” and scowled. I got the same response as I answered the next few questions. I began to get a bit nervous.

But then he asked about my views of Native Americans, and when I said how much I admired their living in harmony with the land and their spirituality, he beamed. He said, “If I have any religion, that’s mine.” Then I felt safe.

When I got off the bus he said, “Reverend, I only protect good people. If you ever are in danger and need a bodyguard, call me.” That’s nice to know.

Once my wife, Betty, sat beside a woman on an airplane and learned she was an expert concerning Alzheimer’s disease. She traveled to lecture to caregivers and medical personnel about this.

Betty said, “I am so glad to sit and talk to you. I want to ask you, ‘When a person like that says something that is wrong, should I correct him or just pretend to agree?’ ”

The woman replied, “Just go with it. Disagreeing just agitates the person and it does no good. Just keep the visit pleasant.” Now I have learned that, too, and it helps me in my visiting.

On one trip we stopped at a highway rest area and Betty got into a conversation with a woman who was driving a red Prius just like ours. We agreed to meet with her and her husband for lunch and had a delightful time.

Her husband traveled the world lecturing to marine officials about how to protect themselves from pirates. They need to know what to do to avoid being boarded and what to do if that happened. For instance, he explained that pirates and terrorists must be treated completely differently. “Terrorists want to kill you,” he said. “Pirates will keep you alive and hold you for ransom.” It was fascinating.

Recently I have been on several plane trips. In each case, my seat mate was engrossed in his laptop or iPad. With ear buds from his head to the machine, he was not available for conversation. If I had spoken, he would not have heard me, or he would have been irritated.

When waiting in a doctor’s reception room the other day, I noticed the four other people in the room were all using their smartphones. Finally I said, “Isn’t this weird? Rather than visiting with one another we are all in touch with people who are not here.”

They looked at me with shock for a moment, said nothing, and then all went back to their phones.

Times have changed. The person beside you might have more to add to your life than your electronic gadget does. Put it away!

Hebrews 13:2 says, “… some have entertained angels without knowing it.” You may not meet an angel, but you will meet some fascinating strangers.