Thursday, June 2, 2011
Racial Reconciliation and Fried Banana Pudding
We got to the restaurant, sat down and started studying which glutinous sin we wanted to commit. As we talked over the merits of fried chicken vs. porkchops a man came up behind our booth and interrupted our conversation. He was one of the cleaning staff.
He leaned in and said, "What you guys are doing here is so great. You don't see that very often around here. It's really wonderful." He said this as he gestured to our neighbors and then to us.
We didn't quite know how to respond. After he left we looked at each other a little perplexed. Our neighbors are African American. We, obviously, are not. It hadn't crossed our mind that someone would see us sharing a meal together and find that different, even inspiring.
The man commenting on our friendship was also African American. There was something a little off about him but he was very sincere. As we were finishing up dinner, he came back by our table to talk some more. The theme of his comments continued to touch on how much he thought our interracial friendship was a great example of something people don't usually engage in.
At one point in the conversation our neighbor got distracted when a photo of the restaurant's Fried Banana Pudding dessert flashed up on the tv screen. He asked our interested guest if it was any good. "It's great," the man said. "In fact I'll buy it for you, if you want it. I think you guys are doing such a great thing, I'll order one for you."
And, since men don't turn down free food even if they just ate enough food for a small village, the husbands at the table said, "OK."
When we left the restaurant we laughed about the experience. But even though we didn't think there was anything unusual about our time together, I felt a deep sadness for the employee. He was so sincere about the issue that he must have experienced some significant hurt throughout the years. He obviously felt deeply the racial bigotry and tension that still often lays under the surface in our politically correct culture. It hurt me to think about that. I don't like to think that race still means so much in our world, but it does.
We did take home some delicious friend banana pudding from the restaurant, but I also took away a heavy heart. I pray that the man carried home with him a lighter heart. Even if he didn't know Christ, I hope he might have felt some of Jesus' reconciling power just by seeing a very simple and uninspiring act of friends from different racial and cultural backgrounds sharing a meal together.
I am so thankful that we serve a God who sees us all as His beautiful children and that I have the privilege to look into the face of someone much different than me and see Him.