March 6, 2005

Let Me Introduce...

There is a lost art to making introductions. There was a time not so very long ago when children were taught the conventions and practices of such... For example, did you know that men are to be presented (or introduced) to women? Young presented to old? An individual to a group? Thus showing respect and deference to the one receiving the introduction. When making an introduction one should always try to mention something that the two parties have in common - preferably something that gives them a place to begin a conversation.

That being said my manners have slipped considerably since moving to regions that are ostensibly north of the Mason-Dixon line, were it to extend this far west. Over the course of the past month, my travels have taken me "home" several times. The South, God bless her, being as close to "home" as I have ever had. It has been bittersweet being reunited with friends and acquaintances from years past.

I had almost forgotten what it was like to spend time with the "thoughtlessly courteous" -People who have been trained since they could smile to put others first. I'm not talking about Southern culture in general (though its a good start) but rather those who love the Lord Jesus and their manners are an overflow of both that relationship and a culture that encourages friendliness and courtesy. What a blessing to my soul to once again walk among those who are genuine, nice, friendly people. To be in places where a smile and a genial "hey" are returned in kind rather than with the reproof of a dirty look. A place where Gentleman and Ladies outnumber the rude, discourteous, and self-focused. How refreshing to be in a place where a gesture of friendship being extended because of mutual friends is received as an attempt at building bridges (and expanding circles) rather than a bizarre act by someone the recipient clearly isn't interested in knowing.

But I digress from my purpose, which was to point out how very much is revealed in an introduction. Being introduced by someone is quite an eye-opening experience because it often offers a glimpse into how that someone sees (remembers) you, or your relationship. This weekend, I discovered that to one whom I would have claimed a closer acquaintance I was simply "a girl I went to school with" and to another whom I was surprised remembered me at all I was "a good friend from Architecture school."
Do you ever marvel at how two people can go through the same experience and come out with entirely different memories of what happened? I often get glimpses of those perspectives when being introduced by friends. It's interesting; sometimes honoring and occasionally disappointing. But all in all a good reminder to pay closer attention to those around me and to think about how I introduce people. An introduction is an opportunity to make those being introduced feel important and loved. I'm going to work on being better about that.

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