Everyday Story, Kate Schwass

As we left a favorite neighborhood restaurant lately, the couple at the table next to us commented "this is like your Cheers!"  It was true, it is one of the several nearby spots where "everyone knows [our] names."  One of our great joys over the last few years has been settling into our neighborhood and developing deep relationships with both neighbors and local businesses.  What made me pause about this couple's comments was two things: 1. That restaurant is not the only one where we know the names of the staff and get hugs when we arrive and leave, and 2. Actually knowing the names of the business owners and staff was a crucial piece of developing these relationships.  

About 8 months ago, Chris asked the servers at another restaurant, Sushi Park, what their names were - and quite suddenly, it unlocked such a special relationship.  We went from becoming customers and servers to friends.  Before that, we were friendly, but the relationships did not feel personal.  The same thing has happened at many of our local spots - partially because we prioritize shopping and eating out as locally as possible... but mostly due to Chris' consistent practice of introducing us and asking for the names of the people we meet.  The act of knowing and using someone's name is incredibly powerful.  We know this from the Bible, of course - God consistently uses the act of naming to cement his relationships with his people.  And while we aren't giving anyone their names, the act of inquiring about the names of others, remembering their names and sharing our own has become a important practice for us.  We now know and use the names of most of our neighbors and the staff of several restaurants, the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the nail salon and my favorite crossing guard.  Moving through our neighborhood has become a true joy - filled with interactions with people who know us and who we know.  We feel deeply connected to this place - and it all started with asking "What's your name?" 

Invitation: Take the first step this week and introduce yourself to someone in your local context - could be the janitor of your building, the barista at the coffee shop or neighbor down the street.  I can't promise it won't feel awkward (actually, I bet it probably will!) but I do promise that over time, it will be totally worth it!