I've noticed when I am out exercising, running errands, or standing in line most of the people I pass or stand next to are closed off. Their expressions offer no invitation for engagement. They either look down or stare forward with no acknowledgement of others around them. Even in elevators, everyone usually stares silently at the floor or up at the floor numbers flashing above the door. Coming in contact with strangers is one of the most awkward moments I've experienced and observed.
Sometimes when I'm feeling silly I'll enter a crowded elevator and look at everyone and ask, "Anybody want to snuggle?" They always laugh. Their countenances change. And, invariably, my ridiculous ice-breaker instigates a conversation.
The same thing happens when I walk past strangers or stand in line behind them. I look at them and say, "Hello." When I speak, they look up, smile, and speak back. Most add the question, "How are you?" And, often, a conversation begins.
I decided to start speaking to strangers a couple of months ago as an experiment. I wanted to see what would happen when I said hello. I have been amazed as I've witnessed the immediate change that takes place. Their faces light up as they smile and speak back to me.
I've noticed my countenance changes, too. I can't see it, but I can feel it. Before I ever see the change in them, I feel the change in myself. I feel myself open up as I prepare to invite someone to spend a moment with me.When I open my mouth and speak, my heart as well as my face smiles.
Hello has become my favorite word. Jesus said hello often, and the day He said hello to me He changed my life.
What if I'm the first encounter others have with Jesus. What if my hello is His hello. If I keep my eyes to the ground or keep staring forward without speaking, some may never meet Him. I think it is right to say hello to strangers. I think He thinks so, too.