Earlier in the week, I received a flyer about the grand opening of a little bistro just up the street. There was the promise of door prizes and half price lunches. A plea for everyone in the neighborhood to “come check us out” was written in bold type.
It was lunchtime so I decided to walk up there. For an instant, I thought about calling Jean to ask if she would like to join me but as much as I enjoyed her stories and company, I jealously guarded my solitude.
When I got to the corner, I hadn’t gotten within five feet of “the judge” before he turned to me and said “have you come for salvation sister?”
He was like Jean, in that there was no time for a response. It was like bad journalism. Run-on sentences, one right after the other and you could hardly distinguish when one sentence began and the other ended.
He had the perfect cadence of a preacher when he asked “have you had hands laid upon you and been dipped into the Holy water of His righteousness?”
I started to giggle but he abruptly moved toward me and said “I can see that you have a black soul. You are dark and twisted. Come sister and let me cleanse that black soul that you might enter the kingdom of our almighty God. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.”
I smiled and started to walk away. He said “remember sister, whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed: for in the image of God has God made mankind.”
I couldn’t help but give him a rather flip retort. “Wow. That was a mouthful,” I said. He quickly replied “be not deceived sister. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Thou shout fear the Lord thy God.”
I looked at him and said “likewise, I’m sure but I’m in rather a hurry. I’ll fear Him tomorrow. How’s that?” He quickly and sternly chastised me by saying “tomorrow may be too late.”
I was wondering if that was the same speech he gave everybody who was within shouting distance. Preachers always tend to read the riot act and assume that we are all sinners. Most of us probably are but sometimes, at least in my eyes, sin is defensible, especially when you have just cause.
I don’t believe that vengeance exclusively belongs to God. I believe that you should sometimes get retribution in your own way and if you feel the need, seek forgiveness later. I had never found it necessary to seek absolution nor had I ever felt the need to have my “black” soul cleansed.
When I got to the bistro, I was surprised to see that only a few patrons were there. They were sitting at round 50’s style tables, complete with bygone era napkin holders and sugar containers. The waitress had on a short skirt with a little apron around her waist and she was on roller skates.
There was a counter with bar stools upholstered in red vinyl and a retro soda fountain. I found the whole set-up rather charming but I felt sure that once the novelty wore off, it would most likely go out of business. I was also pretty sure that before that happened, since it was in the neighborhood, Jean would have colorful nicknames for the owner and employees.
I sighed as I thought “this is really nothing to write home about,” so I gave them empty wishes for much success and left.
As I walked by, the judge once again fixed his gaze on me. Before I began my judgment of him, I only remembered hearing him say “sister, there is evil in your heart.”
I was thinking “okay, he’s just your average Joe…medium height…medium build and age appropriate thinning grey hair.” He was clutching his Bible with a wedding banded hand, which to me doesn’t mean anything and like most men, thinks he’s entitled to feel superior.
I wondered what kind of evil was in his heart. What was his reasoning for standing on his self-erected pedestal to pass judgment on others? I found it offensive when someone was quick to make assumptions, predict damnation and threaten ever-lasting hell.
Still spewing out his ominous rhetoric and condemnations, I simply smiled and walked away but not before turning to take one last look as his eyes followed me.
To be continued_______________