I was making my way through the parking lot on a mission to clutch my hands around a triple grande extra hot caramel macchiato. It had been one of those nights when my mind started racing at 1:00 am and the holy nudge to get out of bed and get on my knees to pray soon followed. Now with that mission completed, this one became imperative.
I didn’t get too far from my car before a small red pickup truck idled slowly next to me. I am a little wary when things like this happen. When cars idle up and windows slowly lower down. Scars from the past when the similar occurred and perverted intentions were exposed. So I side glanced briefly when I heard a soft voice say, “do you know what time it is?”
In the driver’s seat sat an older man wearing a well, worn red flannel shirt with a face etched in a million wrinkles and skin as thin as vellum. He spoke with a country slowness echoing a different time and a different place. I knew the only threat here was to my schedule.
What started out with an innocuous question idled on to where he was going. Some place he hadn’t been before in a town he hadn’t seen in 20 years but was only 40 miles or so down the road. While the engine of this little red pickup whirred on, he quietly told me where he was from, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. He had left long, long ago but his dear sister still lived there. I know that because when he spoke about the snow – how he didn’t like it nor wanted anymore to come – he shared he called his sister during our last snowstorm to find out she had her own storm. She doesn’t like snow, either, so he said. I smiled and nodded as I silently wondered if the time was ever what he really needed.
I don’t think so.
At least not the time a clock wore at that moment. More like the time of a slow conversation talking about something, about nothing.
And in that very brief moment, my caramel macchiato didn’t seem as necessary anymore.
The coffee could wait because this was needed.
I pray to see the sacred in the ordinary and yet the momentum of my days cause the ordinary to blur into oblivion. Far too often, I miss the holy that is right before me. I miss the holy that resides within me. This moment I stopped and stood in what looked like a parking lot but was really sacred ground.
We ministered to each other. He to my busy. Me to his lonely. God amongst it all.
God knew what time it was. It was time for church.
This is what real church looks like.