My husband laughs at me, because random people talk to me, for apparently no reason other than that I don't look threatening. Which is really funny, because it seems some of the young women to whom I have lectured, or who are working in ministry with me, seem fairly intimidated by me.(I am not intimidating).
So today, when I was compelled to stop and fill up my tank with gas after travelling as long as I dared with the amber "E" light practically screaming at me, I wasn't really surprised. I had given my card to the attendant (I live in New Jersey), and was leaning on my arm in the open window when I heard "How is your day going?"
It was practically a disembodied voice breaking into my beta-mode brain. I was a little startled, and when I looked up towards the voice, I noticed a middle aged "hippie" type leaning against his car. Since he was waiting outside his car for the tank to fill, I assumed he was from out of state. (*and illegally self-serving at the gas station, btw.) The white pony tail wasn't enough of a giveaway. But his friendly, warm smile made me not only answer "um, fine. sorry. thanks." I returned the chatter.
He was from Maine, about 30 miles north of Portland. He had driven the 7 1/2 hours south, and had only an hour left to drive. He was visiting a friend, and was ready for a beer. He does music therapy with disabled and developmentally challenged people. He paid for his gas in cash.
I didn't offer as much. But he wasn't scary - chatty. It was pleasant, and sweet. There was no reason not to be human. There was no reason not to take the opportunity to share the moment, to be friendly back, to find Jesus in him.
I'll never see him again. But the moment stuck with me.
And I think it mostly did because he saw ME as a fellow human being. He thought I was worth talking to. He wished me the best in my life. He honored Christ in me. And it was really beautiful. I never felt self-conscious, or creepy. I had been feeling emotionally drained. I had cried earlier in the day and was pretty sure my eyes were still ugly. And it just didn't matter.
So is this, perhaps, the challenge? To honor the light in others, even strangers - especially strangers? To open the conversation - to be open? To humanize a moment of waiting at a gas station - to act humanly?
Are these dumb questions? Am I the only one who misses the opportunities? Well, I think not. Otherwise this would not be such a remarkable day. And I think, really, that every day and every interaction ought to be remarkable, because in every case we are encountering Christ in others. We just need to take the time to see, to act, to share, to love.