Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stranger in the Night

Recently I traveled with my husband's baseball team (He coaches 17 and 18 year olds.) to Tennessee for a tournament. We arrived in Nashville in the afternoon and spent our first evening at the Wild Horse Saloon (which sounds like a terrible place to take a group of adolsecents!) a popular tourist destination with a huge dance floor, performance stage, line-dance lessons, and lots of good food -- really a family atmosphere.

At the end of the night while waiting for our groups' cars to pick us up, another coach's wife and I noticed this young man who was dressed in gangsta style (baggy shorts, basketball jersey, lots of bling bling, shaved hair) who had Jesus in a crown of thorns tattooed on the back of his head and another tattoo on the top of his head that we couldn't see. He was smoking a cigarette and talking non-stop to the saloon's security guard who was politely nodding and smiling.

I couldn't take my eyes off that tattoo and became so curious, I had to talk to him. So, I (little Miss Priss, straight-as-an-arr0w conservative) interrupted the one-sided conversation and asked him why he had that Jesus tattoo. He told me he was a Christian and then revealed the outside of his arms which were tattooed with "Amazing Grace."

He was pretty amazed that I had been bold enough to approach him and even more surprised when I told him that I was also a Christian. Then he asked me a question "Do you think it is okay not to attend church?" I could tell from his tone and expression that mainstream congregations (who look like me) had probably hurt him, but I didn't have time to answer, as my ride pulled to the curb. I really wanted to finish our conversation and was tempted to ask the driver of the van to cruise around the block a couple of times. But not wanting to be inconsiderate, I, instead, asked him if he had a business card. He didn't, and I didn't, so I hugged him goodbye. He thanked me for talking to him and expressed how encouraged he was by my friendliness.

I have thought about him several times and expressed regret to friends at home that I now have no way to reach him. BUT they have reminded me that God has a way -- so I pray that any wounds he may have suffered at the hands of Christians who were perhaps self-righteous and judgmental will be softened by the happy memory of our chance encounter.

Still, I would really like to talk to him again because I forgot to ask him about the tattoo on the top of his head!

1 comment:

Daphne said...

What a compelling story and series of images: the bar, the boy, the tattoo. I think it's a short story. You captured one of those fleeting moments when the barriers between ourselves and someone seemingly unlike us are down and we connect, sometimes profoundly. I wish I had more moments like that.