A couple weeks ago Scott and I got to go out while my mama watched Cass for a few hours. (Is it just my kid or do all kids act better for their grandmothers?) We went to the high school football game and then went downtown to see what El Dorado night life is all about. Apparently it’s all about a few empty bars and one tiny little coffee shop.
We went in one of the bars and sat on the balcony. We met a couple of out-of-town pilots who flew in for a private company and had the night off. They were trying to figure out what people in El Dorado do. So were we. They were nice and thoughtful, and I wish I would have talked to them awhile longer, but I was restless and missing my baby.
We decided to abandon the bar because I had one whiskey drink and thought I would never be able to talk without slurring my speech again. Apparently forgoing the alcohol for the last year and a half has seriously diminished my tolerance, which, as some of you know, is small to begin with. There is a running joke with my friends that I automatically turn drunk at 5pm. Even if I haven’t had a drink. In all actuality it’s not that I’m drunk, I’m just that silly. I get goofier and goofier the older I get. I also tolerate alcohol less and less the older I get.
We had peered inside the windows of the coffee bar earlier but did not go in. There were some neat looking pillows and bags that we liked so we walked back to check them out. The front room of the shop was filled with odds and ends that referenced pop culture and a single doorway that let the sounds swell from the back room. The sound hit me and I instantly fell in love with it. The voice of an older man and his acoustic guitar. Singing, “Jesus on the mainline, tell em whatcha want.” Smooth, warm, and deep, it rolled over my soul like milky coating. Scott led me to the back room where only the man and the shop owner were and I took a seat directly in front of the man and his guitar.
He stopped. I begged him to keep playing.
He agreed and told me that I’d like the next song. I did. I loved it. A song called “Goodbye” by Steve Earl. My eyes swelled as I felt the heartache that was poured into it, as my heart related to the pain and false comforts of chemicals and passivity. We introduced ourselves. Andy could play a sweet tune.
We started talking the regular talk that we all do when we’re meeting someone new, and then Andy asked what we thought about the current situation going on in America. Scott immediately made him feel comfortable by letting him know we’d be accepting of him even if we didn’t agree with him and he said Now I feel like I can speak. And we talked. I didn’t agree with everything he said. But I enjoyed talking to him. I learned a few things and was challenged to dig deeper into my own thoughts and opinions.
When Scott and I finally left the coffee shop we went and sat on a bench for a while before driving home. The line Now I can speak ran over and over in my head.
What if we had been to defensive of our own opinions that we had shut him out? What if we had refused to let him speak poorly of the things that we so deeply believe? What if we had been uninterested because of his age? Or that he looked rough around the edges? Or that he sang a song about getting high? What if I had disregarded him, as I’ve done with so many others, that I’d missed the blessing?
I want my life to be one that allows people – whoever they are, where ever they are from, whatever they believe – a voice. The times that I’ve made my goal changing others to be more like me I’ve seldom learned how to change myself. I want to be a person who listens first. And learns. And loves.
I want to be like Jesus.
Jesus on the mainline, tell him what you want!