If you had 5 1/2 to 6 hours to spend any way you wanted, I know you would love to spend them on a solitary voyage through the asphalt rivers that network my home state. No, you're right... I would hesitate to rank it highest on my list of Delights and Aspirations. But, nonetheless, I have grown to tolerate and even enjoy that stark waste of time we term "driving". It's quite ridiculous, if you give it any thought whatsoever.... bound, of your own free will, to a seat, pushing rectangular objects with your feet, turning a round thing right and left with your hands, and either glancing about constantly or gazing fixedly ahead (depending here upon your state of consciousness) for hours at a time. I still find it both frustrating and highly amusing that we humans have yet to conquer space and time; we, like the rest of creatures created, have to scurry about on Earth's crust in order to arrive at our desired destinations. Oh, but I was saying I have learned to enjoy the scurrying part. After a very enjoyable and very peopled vacation (if the fact that your sisters need to take turns sitting beside you at the table to avoid the huge injustice of one person getting deprived one occasion to sit beside you... and the fact that you are never lacking for places to go because there is no way you could spend time at coffee shops with all the friends you would love to talk to... and the fact of your having to pick the dog up every time you set foot into the house because she is going into joyful contortions at your return from wherever you were... don't make you feel loved, you have a problem), it was rather nice to have several hours of solitude. One slight problem is that you might get tired of your own thoughts. That, my friends, is the purpose of Music. Even then, you might get bored. Also, you might begin to be enveloped by warm, comfy thoughts on the subject of Sleep. In that case, you'd better stop for a mad dash through a swirling, bitterly icy gale into a gas station to procure the cup of coffee requisite to your continued journey. Which I did. Make a mad dash through a swirling, bitterly icy gale into a gas station to procure the sup of coffee requisite to my continued journey, that is. This is what ensued:
I noticed that the 20-something African-American guy behind the counter eyed me in a somewhat thoughtful, slightly mystified manner. Upon my arrival at the counter to slide a bit of plastic through a machine to make the coffee legally mine (another practice I find peculiar, this buying and selling bit... but I shall spare you the ramblings), he asked, "May I ask you a question?"
"Are you allowed to date outside your... ummm... circles?"
(Oh, please! But, somehow, he seems more genuinely interested in ONLY the question than some others.) "That's a personal choice; we aren't forbidden, but yeah, it's a personal choice."
"Oh. 'Cause I heard that you people aren't allowed to date black guys."
"Oh, yes we are! Um, actually I have black friends and one of my white friends is marrying a black guy."
"Oh. So do you usually have sex before you're married?"
(Here I would have weirded out if his face would not have been the face of a sincere questioner.) "No, I personally believe that is wrong."
"Then how will you know if you work together? Could you stay married to someone that it just didn't work with?"
(Oh, God... help me show him what love really is!) "Well, to me, love is being willing to risk and give up anything for the sake of the other person and caring more about that person than your own pleasure." (Shoot. That sounded simplistic. But how else could I say it?)
His expression changed to one of awe. He said something about that being worth the wait, and I, hoping I'd given him a glimpse into the heart of a Jesus-follower and wondering if I should say more (but not really into lengthening the conversation), left.
Wow, you never know what kind of question you're going to be asked when you look like you're marching to the beat of a different drummer! You also never know when a simple act, like stopping at a gas station for coffee, is an opportunity to connect with one of your fellow Image-bearers. I pray that there was something about me that reminded this guy of a Man he had never met.