My mother had to walk past the Orthodox Church to visit me one year, and was very concerned about something when she arrived. "Its the crib. Poor baby Jesus. He has flat parents!". I walked down later, and it was just as she said. Flat Mary and Joseph. What a wonderful mother I have, to notice such a thing, and to care. Nothing flat about her.
We start off all bouncy, round and cute, ready to go anywhere. Then life has its way with us. There are disappointments. Some of us get flattened. What can be done?
I have a trick. It makes people round again, for a few minutes anyway, and I'm sharing it with you this Christmas Eve. I worked out this trick as a survival skill, for catching public transport. Myself, my brothers and sisters, all seven of us have the same problem. We attract talkative people. People who have run out of listeners in their usual life see us, sit right beside us, and talk and talk like their words are attached to some kind of life raft. I could probably stop them, and they'd get over it in 10 seconds. They don't care about our relationship, any audience will do. Maybe when people are flat, the think everyone else is flat too, that I'm just someone on a screen. So what I do is I interrupt with these questions:
'Do you love your children?'
'When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?'
They are shocked. Meaningful conversation is not in the script! But they have a go at answering. They dig deep, like they are curious to see the answer themselves. You can see them fill out before your eyes, get more round and human, get interesting. What a relief for both of us.
Humans are miraculous, with our capacity to transform, in an instant, under the spell of someone who requests it from us.