a belated ... Lent, Day 2
A piano bar, on a boat to the Bahamas.
The piano man schmoozing his late-night clientele, telling stories, playing old favourites, gathering up snippets of his listeners lives. Entertainer, sometimes Father-confessor and pastor-comforter:
'...so that's when we divorced. I got in the car and heard this song. Can you play it?'
A group of women filter in.
He discovers they are clergy.
Occasional smiling commentary between requests.
And then, unbidden, in the midst of the mojitos and ministers and everyone else, accommodation.
A new song begins: 'Lord I lift your name on high'.
The bar crowd sing, even some of the ministers.
The hand movements done in church now transported to the high seas.
It's jazzy, it's fun, it's cheesy. But there are huge grins all around.
Another song follows: 'Amazing grace'.
The atmosphere changes to near-reverence.
Memories of loved ones mingle with the music of a song
so often played in very different circumstances.
The song lingers for a moment, and then a quip, and he deftly moves to 'Sweet Caroline'.
I sit with a friend and wonder.
She turns and says something along the lines of: 'He worked out his audience. And he accommodated us, made us welcome, spoke our language. How often do we do that as the church to those who wander in from other life contexts?'
I nod, reflecting on this unlooked-for parable of hospitality in a seemingly unlikely place.
We pick up our drinks silently, thoughtfully as the piano man plays on.