I had a really interesting encounter today. I swear, I am a magnet for these things.
The boys and I decided to walk around downtown and enjoy the sunshine-y morning after the gym. We made a quick stop at a coffee shop where mommy fueled up with some java and we shared a lemon-blueberry “cookie” scone (really just a scone, but I called it a cookie hoping they’d be satisfied with it instead of the real cookie they were begging for…50% of them were). Anyway, we continued on our walk to the center of the downtown, which houses a large grassy area where we could run around a bit.
Once we arrived, the first things that got the boys’ attention were the large water fountains spraying water into the air. I never really got these specific water features. Sure, they are “cute” and add something to the downtown, but are they for ascetics only or are kids supposed to play in them or are you just supposed sit down on one of the benches fixed directly around them and take in their understated glory? It’s no Bellagio show! Seriously, where are the “rules”?
Anyway, the first thing that caught my attention was the twenty-something couple that entered the park and proceeded to lay down together in the center on the cement. The woman had what appeared to be a short chain-linked dog leash around her neck and the man was leading her around on it.
Enter my internal conversation: Huh, I must have just seen that wrong. right? I bet that was just a long necklace. Huh, nope, nope, he really is walking her around like a dog. That’s normal, right? Nope, nope, not normal.
The conversation in my head continued with my plan to keep the boys’ backs to the couple, because I really wasn’t in the mood to A.) explain to my toddlers why we shouldn’t walk another human being around like a dog or B.) see my toddlers inevitably walking each other around like dogs later that day.
Well, my plan worked. It worked until the couple came right over by us and the water features. One of my little boys was in the process of working up the courage to touch the top of one of the smaller water features. The other of my little boys was 10 feet away screaming at the lunacy of getting wet in the water feature.
Dog leash lady came over to us, shaved head and neck full of chrome, and asked my son, “Do you want to see something fun?”
My response while taking a few steps back was, “Like fun-fun or fun-terrifying?”
Her response: To rip off her coat (don’t worry she had a tank top on) and run back and forth through the fountains until she was completely drenched. I’m talking water-logged drenched.
One child looked on with utter delight and one watched in confused terror.
When she stopped running through the fountains, she came back over to us and while I pretended to act like this was all cool and normal, I said something to my appalled child like, “See honey, she had no fear!”
What I was saying inside was: “What the beep is going on and how do I get the beep outta here. And how does this weird stuff always happen to me?!”
Me looking at her completely drenched clothes: “Wow, I hope you don’t have to be anywhere anytime soon; your clothes are soaked!”
Her: “I just wanted to do something to cheer him up!” she said while pointing at my little guy who had been screaming. “I like to do anything to make children happy!”
Her Boyfriend: “Well, we do have that meeting with my boss in 45 minutes.”
We talked for a few more minutes and I learned that they were currently staying at the Salvation Army and that they have a four month old son in foster care that they are trying to get back. And that he works for a friend, who was “pretty cool” and probably wouldn’t mind if his girlfriend shows up to the meeting completely soaked.
I couldn’t help but ask about that dog leash though….
Me: “So, what’s with the dog leash?”
Her: “It’s an inside joke between friends, because I get lost easily. So, he has to lead me around.”
Me: “Oh, well, can I tell you what my honest first impression of it was?”
Me: “Well, honestly all I could think of was how it was so objectifying to women; I mean you are letting him lead you around on a leash!”
Her: With sincere surprise in her eyes like she had really never thought of that, “No, no.”
Him: “I didn’t like the idea of it at first either.”
Me: “Anyway, just thought I’d tell you my honest opinion. So…good luck with your little one and at the meeting with your boss. Thanks for trying to make my kids smile. My parking meter is almost up, so…..bye!”
And at that very moment my water loving child ran face first into the water feature and came running back to me shivering and smiling with delight.
I’m not going to lie, I judged the pants off these people and I tried to avoid them. Given everything scary that continues to happen in our world, in normal public places, in large cities and in small communities, I suppose my initial response wasn’t really that crazy.
It wasn’t until she told me that they were living at the Salvation Army that I felt something soften slightly in me and I felt my demeanor towards them change. It was that instance that I realized I was talking to Jesus’ people.
Maybe the woman who allows someone to walk her around on a leash and the man that “leads” her around are the tax collectors and prostitutes of today. Those were Jesus’ people then and these are Jesus’ people now.
I was pretty emotional actually on my drive home thinking about my interaction with these people. I felt like I not only interacted with Jesus’ people, but also with Jesus himself.
Was I kind to Jesus?
Did I care enough about Jesus?
Did I judge Jesus unfairly?
Did I cloth Him or feed Him?
Did I listen to Him?
Did I love Him?
You just never know when you’ll meet Him. Well, actually, you know exactly when you’ll meet Him…the next time you meet or interact with ANYONE. It’s just so hard to remember that sometimes.
Keep running through waterfalls,