not long ago i was eating lunch with a co-worker at a great burrito place downtown. it’s the kind of place that attracts a pretty diverse group of people. some stay and eat, other just hang out in front. if it’s an amazing burrito you’re looking for, the place is tough to beat.
on this recent visit, while we were waiting for our lunches to come, a young man walked in who caught my attention. it wasn’t so much that he was clad in a black trench coat and army boots (come on, that’s relatively normal nowadays, right?), it was the fact that he had black face paint smeared across his face and he seemed to be murmuring to himself, a lot. when he stepped up to the cashier, presumably to order, he stopped mid-sentence and began frantically commenting that his face paint had become smeared and rushed off to the bathroom to check. this same thing happened several times, and while i really do typically try to avoid staring or even listening to the conversations of others, i couldn’t help but find myself completely engaged in what was happening.
but what caught my attention even more than this young man was the cashier. she seemed completely oblivious to the fact that this was not the norm for most people. she listened to him with genuine sincerity until he disrupted their conversation yet again for a trip to the bathroom to check his face paint. she didn’t look to others like, “can you believe this guy?!” when he was away, but would simply wait and welcome him with a smile upon his return from the restroom.
this woman was probably in her late 40’s to early 50’s, and seemed to be a pretty typical resident of our local community. some might say a granola, hippy, you get the idea… not your stereotypical churchgoer. and i found myself thinking, the sincere care that she showed for this young man, the lack of judgment, the warm expression and listening ear, that was a picture of Jesus for me. right there where i’d least expect it. this woman, had i asked, was probably not a regular churchgoer. in fact, she very well may hold negative feelings toward the church. and yet, here she was, modeling the love of Christ for me.
now, it may just be that this woman, after experiencing this same situation day in and day out has come to expect this as part of her job, but i am not so sure that changes anything. the fact is, she offered no-strings-attached love to a young man who wasn’t likely to receive it from most others who he came across.
He showed me a little bit of Himself that day. and all i was expecting was a filling lunch.