Those who know me know that I’m probably one of the least hipster/culturally aware people in the entire world. I’m serious. I’m usually six months behind on any given trend and prefer to forge my own way that is less “hipster” and more “I don’t even know what Spotify is so I just replay songs on youtube.” Anyways! This last Saturday I found myself waiting for my friends (thank you, Jesus, for real, live friends) at a local coffee shop before going on an afternoon brewery tour (not hipster, I just like beer).
And, you guessed it, the coffee shop was way too cool for school, and certainly too cool for me. Organic coffee. No artificial sweetener. Lots of tattoos. I. Was. Out. Of. My. Element. But once I set my mind on iced coffee, there is no turning back. So I nervously sat down and tried to look like I belonged. After discovering a melted Reese’s cup in my purse (gross, I know), I nervously took out my laptop (with said melted chocolate on it) to do some “work.” And theeennnnnn there was no wifi, so I was forced to “do work” on my comp and nervously text Theresa asking where she was.
As I was awkwardly taking in my surroundings, all the while trying not to be that creepy girl that just sits in the coffee shop staring in awe at everyone else, something incredible happened. In front of me there was a woman–actually doing real work–that had a Bible sitting on her table. Another patron (medium hipster-status, I’d say) noticed the Bible and struck up a conversation. After they had exchanged a few pleasantries, she asked him if he wanted the Bible. Just like that! He gratefully accepted it, equal parts shocked and elated, and after a bit more conversation walked away.
Even while attempting to stave off tears, I immediately began to weigh the pros and cons of saying something to her. After sending various frantic messages to friends asking “should I say something to her?!?!!?!?” (thanks Arleen & Greg), I found a beautiful prayer card in my wallet from a dear friend’s ordination. I packed up my chocolate-smeared computer and decided to go for it. I nervously walked the three steps to her table, told her how much I admired her–I think my actual words were, “That was really awesome, very incarnational”–introduced myself and handed her the prayer card from Fr. Taylor’s ordination (see, it pays to grab a stack of fifty . . .) We exchanged contact info and promised to pray for each other and connect again.
I walked into that coffee shop feeling like a complete outsider, but I walked out with my tears in my eyes grateful for the reminder that the Christian life is inherently relational and rooted in authentically encountering the living God in those that we meet. Although the early Apostles probably weren’t hanging out in coffee shops waiting for a brewery tour (I think their preferred drink was wine . . .), I felt a certain solidarity with them, even as I sat there awkwardly contemplating whether or not I should slip in an affirmation of the Christian life bearing fruit in another person. At this point in my life, God is calling me to not merely find Him in Himself, but to find Him everywhere and anywhere He may be found, especially in the most unexpected places and circumstances. By opening one’s heart to these incarnation experiences, we can remember that we are not in this alone. And there is joy, such joy.