In high school, I got a job working at the sporting goods store in the local mall. On my breaks, I would walk around the mall or head to the food court. Granted it was Peoria, IL, in the mid-1980’s so there wasn’t a broad spectrum of diversity — but it was still fascinating to watch the people who went to the mall.
I’m still fascinated by people. Airports, baseball games, coffee shops — anywhere people gather. I like to observe how people act and react. How people interact intrigues me, especially as I watch through my pastoral eyes.
This afternoon, while the kids at Opportunity Camp went to the beach, I walked into Felton and settled into the White Raven coffee shop. The White Raven is mostly a coffee shop with a few eccentric offerings, such as incense sticks and greeting cards.
Felton only has about 4,000 people and most of them (it seems) walk by the coffee shop at some point during the day. While it’s technically located in the “Bay Area”, in many respects it’s in its own world. I like to say it’s where all the hippies fled when people in San Francisco began buying BMW’s. Then these same hippies began having children and now their hippie children still live in Felton.
While sitting in the White Raven this afternoon, I noticed a fellow wearing a San Francisco Giants’ cap walk in. From how he greeted everyone, it was obvious he’s a local and must come here often. Over ten minutes or so, he made it point to talk to different people — even sitting at a few tables.
He held the door for people as they entered. He wished a guy well. He spoke with people that he didn’t know, but not in a rude or abrasive manner. He was just … friendly.
Now, some of you are thinking: Giants’ fans aren’t like that!
Maybe most of them aren’t, but this one was different. And maybe that’s what caught my eye. His genuine friendliness struck me as different.
Isn’t that unfortunate.[bctt tweet=”It’s unfortunate when friendliness is the exception to the rule rather than the normal way people treat one another.” username=”kenhensley”] It’s unfortunate more people don’t offer a friendly word to a stranger or a newcomer. It’s unfortunate we don’t take the time to sit down at a table with an acquaintance while we’re waiting for our coffee.
From where I was sitting, I could feel the environment of the room change. It felt better. How long it will last, I don’t know. Most likely, it will last until the next rude or insensitive person dehumanizes the experience.
I don’t whether or not that Giants fan is a Christian. I hope he is. My pastoral hunch is that he probably is or was raised in a Christian home. But it’s not a given. It’s not a given because I’ve been around more than a few unfriendly Christians.
That’s unfortunate, too.
Of all people, those who follow Jesus ought to be the most friendliest people around.
Not to manipulate or impress, but because Jesus lives inside of them. Except when interacting with religious hypocrites, Jesus was a pretty friendly fellow.
I hope you will be, too.