Waiting to Cross

I was on the corner of the sidewalk, waiting for the signal to cross the street.  Next to me was a man who had been there when I crossed the first time; his job was to bounce around a sign advertising $5 pizza at Little Caesar's.  I was not especially inclined to talk to him for at least these two reasons:

  1. There are a lot of sketchy people.  (I could have a blog of bus "friend" stories.) I don't live in Detroit, but the area here isn't the most, uh, friendly and reputable either.
  2. I was kind of in a hurry to get across the street and to my interview at Panera.

Am I wasting my time just standing here?

Shouldn't I be talking to him?

The questions came into my mind suddenly.  But I'm in America now, I don't have status as a "foreign expert" that I do in China -- why would he listen to me?

And what would I say, anyway?  "Hello, sir, you look kind of sketchy and I look like a high school student (or maybe college, if you're feeling generous) but I wanted to say Hi and How's your day going? and How's your relationship with God?"

So I stood there, waiting for the walk signal to light up, and kind of ignoring him beyond whatever initial quick eye contact/smile/nod/acknowledgement that there's another human we had done.  (It was a long light.)

"Hello!" he said cheerfully.

"Hi," I said, thinking about how much I didn't want a pizza right then.

He said something else, I don't remember what.

"It's a beautiful day," I remarked, because clearly the decision had been made for me and we were talking to each other.  Which was okay.  (Did I mention this was a long light?)

"It is.  Jesus loves you!" he told me.

I grinned.  "Yep, He does," I agreed.

Apparently heartened by this response, he continued with growing enthusiasm.  "God is good!"

"God is good, all the time," I said, at this point probably grinning like a maniac.

We talked about where we go to church and how long we've been Christians and had gotten to introducing ourselves.  "Hannah," I told him, and when he said he didn't know what it meant, I said, "Gracious, because God is gracious to us."

He thought about this for a moment.  "God is gracious to us."

His name was Richard.  I asked if he knew what it meant.

(Did I mention -- this is a long light?)

"It means a mighty warrior," Richard said.  "And I'm an intercessory prayer warrior --"

The light changed, and I crossed the road after a hurried, "Bye Richard, nice meeting you," and "Goodbye sister, God bless you!"

He did.


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