Accepting This Church Lady

I will never look like a hipster.  I have zero tattoos. I wear pearls and sweater sets.  I’m 62 years old.

But a miracle happened at my favorite corner cafe on Monday.  It was a Church Miracle.

Me:  Hey C.  Can I just sit outside? (I had entered the place and it was packed inside.)  How are you?

C:  Sit anywhere, Jan.  I’m great because you’re here! [Note:  C. has dreadlocks down past her waistline and she is consistently effervescent.]

I go outside and take a seat by myself.  I like to eat here by myself or with people.

M (my server who aspires to be a stand up comedian): Oh my gosh.  Jan.  I need a hug. This place is a mob scene.  We forgot it was a holiday.

Me:  What’s the holiday?

M: Columbus Day. Do you want coffee?

Me:  Sure.  No rush.

[Note: Now I get why so many people are drinking champagne on a Monday morning.  It’s Columbus Indigenous Peoples Day]

I ate my omelet and drank my coffee while M and C ran around serving mimosas.  They asked hit and run questions about my weekend in Chicago and shared quick bits about their lives.

After things slowed down another server named L stopped by my table on her way off her shift.

L:  Hi Jan. (She takes a seat beside me. L is a queer grad student training to be a sex therapist.) I’m headed home but I’m just going to sit with you for a minute.

Me:  You just came in for the rush?

L:  Yep, I’ve got a project due tomorrow for class. 

Me: What’s the project?

L: It’s about the ethics of treating queer people.  You know I want to be a sex therapist, right?

Me:  I remember. You will help so many people.  (We chat about some other random things. L stands up to go.  We hug goodbye.)

L leaves.  I stand up to leave.

And then a woman who’s been sitting at the next table with her German Shepherd who has apparently been watching me speaks.

Woman Who’s Been Sitting At the Next Table With Her German Shepherd:  Are you the owner of Zada Jane’s?  

Me:  Definitely not.  I’m literally a church lady.

So, here’s the miracle:

Where I spend lots of my time  – in church – people with long dreadlocks or multiple piercings or an unconventional gender identify or the ability to talk about uncomfortable things comfortably are often judged harshly.  We Church People consider ourselves to be friendly and welcoming but we don’t welcome people as well as we think we do.

C, M, & L not only did not judge me in my colorful infinity scarf and pearl earrings – but they were interested in my life and wanted to share bits of theirs. 

C, M, & L will never step across the threshold of a church building – including C who was raised Presbyterian.  But they want to talk about the meaning of life and God and how the world can be better.

How can we be Church with my friends at Zada Jane’s?  The answer begins with the hope that we love and accept people as I was loved and accepted Monday morning.

Seriously.  Infinity scarf and pearl earrings.

Image of Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe.

3 responses to “Accepting This Church Lady

  1. I love this story Jan. This is exactly what Pastor Cliff and I used to talk about. Being church “out there”. Thank you!


  2. Oh, so very important. I feel like church people can be so judgy…. it’s what put me off going to church for years. interactions like you have had will make people think positivley about church and Christians and then, when maybe they might feel like they want to find out more about God then you will be there to welcome them as they are… it is so important!! I honestly resisted God for years because of Christians!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kitty Hahn-Campanella

    Thank you, Jan. This is exactly how I’m seeing things these days. Maybe “the Church” has “left the building.” Maybe “the Church” is doing better than we thought “out of doors.”


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