Valerie is a new friend of mine. We met on Thursday at Anne and Ihor’s B&B in Toronto. We talked about going to the Santa Claus Parade on Sunday afternoon, and just like that … here was Sunday.
Valerie is a devout Christian and wanted to go to a morning service where people really express their joy in the Lord. Anne told her about a church on Weston Road with mostly black folks and that sounded good. Valerie suggested we meet after the service but I said I’d love to come. Yes, I’m a Buddhist, but I love to hear people celebrating their spirituality.
We walked in the front door and were immediately greeted by an elderly woman with the light of Jesus shining in her face. Truly, we were welcomed. A Bible study was going on before church, led by the pastor, who also glowed. He had an accent (I think he was from Sudan), and he spoke some words loudly, others softly. The bottom line was that I could only make out a few words from each sentence, and therefore I usually couldn’t follow his train of thought. It didn’t matter. Love was the communication and I received it loud and clear. It also seemed to beaming out from many of the parishioners nearby. Black … white … who cares? We were together.
Then it was time for singing. Two women went to the front, accompanied by a keyboard player, drummer and guitarist. They blasted out the lyrics and tunes … praising Jesus. The pastor was dancing. So, it appeared, was everyone else. I moved and grooved and sung, without throwing my hands to the sky with Valerie and the others. We were alive!
One of the leaders asked if there was anyone new in church today and I threw up my hand. “What’s your name?” > “Bruce” > “And your friend?” > “Valerie” soared from Valerie’s lips. So cool.
At the end of the service, we were presented with little gift bags, containing a can of pop, a package of potato chips, and a pen. “Thanks for joining us. Please come back.” And I will, when I return to Toronto in January. I know when I’m wanted.
And smiles come in all colours.