Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Casino

In many cities families "adopt" any number of groups or causes in order to share the love of Jesus in an intentional way with a collection or geography of people who many not expect it. For us it's our neighborhood casino, Aliante Station. We love the people there, many of whom seem invisible to most customers. They clean their seats, service their machines, deal their cards, bring their drinks, remove their trash, freshen their restrooms and park their cars. But to many they are a faceless (unless they carry worldly beauty, then they can double as depersonalized objects for pleasure), nameless presence--an animated uniform there to facilitate their leisure.

Now, this description of a casino employee's work experience isn't meant to serve me in self glory, nor to be a platform from which to point my finger at all those "inconsiderate customers." Rather, I simply want to shine a light on the reason why our friends there respond with such vibrancy when anyone offers a genuine smile, inquires with sincerity about their family, or attempts to speak their native tongue if they are from another country. The opportunities to impact someone's day with great significance are without number. They are only limited by how much time our family has when we stroll from one end of the casino to the other en route to a late night ice cream snack or a dollar hot dog during the World Cup.

That provides the context for my conversation tonight with Martha. Martha is between 60-70 years of age. I've never spoken with her, but I've seen her on a number of occasions. Tonight our eyes met as I passed by some 75 feet away. I waved. She waved. I smiled. She smiled.

After I retrieved my slice of heaven from the food court pizzeria the return route to my seat took my right past her work area where she was sweeping the floor and cleaning ash trays. "Ten buen noche," I shared, my best attempt at "Have a good night!"

"Como esta tu familia?" was her reply. "How is my family?" I thought! In a moment when I anticipated to be the blesser and her the blessed I was overcome by her compassion for me.

"They are fine," I said with my limited Spanish vocabulary. "My wife would like to meet you, Martha." As I spoke I glanced past her uniform to read her name. "Oh, I would very much like to meet her too!"

Our conversation continued there in front of some noisy slots while my pizza grease dripped down the outside of my hand. As I left she cautiously broke from her Spanish to say, "Thank you for saying, 'Hello.' Have a good night" I did. She made my night, and somehow in God's grace I could tell I had impacted hers for the better too.

Perhaps next week when I see her I'll have the opportunity to speak more boldly about the love of Jesus.

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Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010