On Sunday, because my house was without internet, my son and I drove to our local Atlanta Bread Company only to find it closed. So we continued on to Panera Bread, settled on a table with an electrical plug along the wall. While my son got his computer running, I strolled to the front to buy a cup of coffee and get a glass of water. While getting the water at the drink station, a woman approached me. Frankly I don’t remember what she said first only that her words had something to do with finding a “peaceful” location to — here I became confused — sit and have coffee or perhaps find a place to stay that would also be “peaceful.” I was bewildered. Then she said, “You are obviously spiritual…” and she added something beyond this but I was standing with hot coffee in one hand, a glass of water in the other and my wallet tucked under my arm against my side. She continued, and I suggested a bed and breakfast near the middle school my daughter attended years ago. At some point, the woman repeated “you are obviously spiritual” and that the numbers of the highways “were meaningful” to her — one highway number was her birthday, another her birth year and so on. She indicated that God had brought her here. While she spoke, I decided to direct her to a nearby abbey where the monks take a vow of silence.
“A great place for a spiritual retreat,” I told her.
She smiled, her eyes gleaming — literally.
Finally I gestured that I needed to take the water to my son and get the hot coffee out of my hand. She followed me to a table next to my son. We sat down and chatted about the abbey and the monks as well as about her views on the church.
The church — the conclusion of our talk was a realization that the church — not the body of Christ but the man-made institution — is a lonely place because God is missing from it.
“He’s left, hasn’t He?” I asked her, almost making a statement.
At any rate, over the next ten minutes, we discuss my novels. She wants to support me, she says. And so, I tell her that most of my novels are in the back of my car in a box if she’s really interested. Turns out she really is. So, I bring her METAL MAN WALKING and also show her AFTER JEWEL which is the one she settles on.
Hmm — does God work in mysterious ways? He certainly did Sunday morning.