Another encounter was with a man suffering from dementia. During our conversation, he reminisced about his career and life as a minister and he kept referring to people by their race (i.e. "the blacks" and "the whites"). A black man now in his 80s, he recalled with pride his ability to cross racial boundaries to minister to and with white folks as well as black. He made several comments about how our churches should be more racially diverse, and he ended our visit by telling me that whatever I was setting out to do, it was going to happen (and he said it with great confidence!).
I love days like today, days when I am free to enjoy encounters with people unlike me, yet so much like me. So often I am too hurried to notice, attend to, or value each encounter in a given day. Today, instead of being preoccupied with thoughts of how/when/why of church starting, I lived in the moment. It's so easy to get carried away by allowing anxieties and concerns about the future to keep us from being present, but there is too much at risk by living this way. I would have missed out on a reminder that while the issue of women in ministry is important, it is inconsequential to the lives of most of the people walking through my neighborhood (duh...). I also would have missed an important reminder that longings for racial reconciliation are innate and powerful - so powerful, in fact, that they penetrate through the cob-webbed thoughts of an aging black man struggling with dementia. Sometimes I need a little perspective, and sometimes I also need to hear words of assurance (if even from a stranger) that, yes, with God's help, I can do this.