First off I want to clarify that I don’t know what I am doing-but I know what I am in search of-more of Him and less of me.
I made my way down the aisle as the last and only. I managed to grab a program that was title, ” Ash Wednesday” from a small pile.
I was the last and the only.
Last in line because I was late getting there and the only Black in the church -well because I live in Vancouver, Washington and Baptist aren’t suppose to do this kind of stuff.
I knew I stood out-but I was determined to get dark-ashes-spread-like-the-cross on my forehead.
I have always been a crossbreed of doctrines.
Church of God In Christ,Protestant, Messianic Judaism-got a little bit of each etched by encounters and enrichment deep in my heart.
Just how the Golden Corral Buffet and Grill promises variety and unlimited qualities-I want to taste and see that the Lord is good in all His people through each of our different doctrines. (As long as it starts and ends with the cross-I’m cool).
Maybe I’m just greedy, but I’d rather think of myself as hungry-which leads me to the second half of this story.
My daughter and I were still hungry from eating early dinner. I had already decided to give up two things for Lent-Facebook and fried food. Burgerville was out of the question because I would want fries and Chipotle was out of my budget because it’s close too the end of the month. So we decided on Taco Bell.
I NEVER GO TO TACO BELL- but it was cheap, fast and my youngest loves their bean burrito.
I had one more child to pick up, so my daughter and I had time to eat in the lobby before my day as Taxi Momma ended.
WE NEVER EAT IN THE LOBBY OF TACO BELL-but we had time and I was tired of driving.
The fast food clerk took our order, and kept smiling at me with a deep admiration. I thought she was an admiring my afro-which all by itself gets a lot of attention these days.
I smiled back.
She smiled back and nodded with acceptance and a knowing.
“Is your church still open?”
“Excuse me?” It was an odd question. My church home is miles away in North Portland.
She pointed at my head.
I had totally forgotten about the smeared black cross in the center of my forehead.
“Oh this? Oh no, I didn’t get this at my church, but at my friends church. We are all done now.”
I found myself want to explain my own dichotomies.
“Well do you know of a church that may be still open at 10:00pm?”
The Taco Bell clerk was so sincere and earnest. I wanted to whisk her away and take her to the nearest altar to get the Lent hook up.
“Hmmm. I don’t. Maybe you could google and see if there is an extended and open community Ash Wednesday service nearby?”
As the words came out, I knew that my on the fly suggestion was neither very promising or realistic.
But isn’t it sad that Wendy’s, McDonald’s even Starbucks are open 24 hours, but “the church” is often closed. I thought to myself.
She pulled out her phone a little confused, but trusting. She was looking to me for more details and direction.
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know where specifically to direct you.”
I gave her an awkward smile. I made myself instantly preoccupied with my well contented child and an urgency to quickly fill up my water cup.
My heart sank and I felt like a phony. I knew I was suppose to say or do something more “Christianly”.
I suddenly remembered I had an extra program in my purse. I pulled it out and openly gave it to her across the food counter.
She picked up the paper like it was the most precious thing in the world. A wide grin spread across her face.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“Maybe you can have your own service tonight?”
“Oh yes, I will.” she said with confidence.
I wanted to tell her, that I too, needed a little more time tonight to reflect on what this Lent thing means and why it is so important to me. I would have loved to swap out -“our journey to Jesus stories” and our current faith walk.
But she was at work and I needed to feed my child. However short our interaction-we both seemed satisfied.
Because smeared ashes, resembling a cross, in a fast food restaurant- still have the power to connect us to Christ and unite us with each other no matter the format or the background.