So begins my story. On Monday I was meeting a seminarian friend, Jameel, for coffee at Panera Bread. He was my ace at Drew, a fellow thinker and preacher, and it just so happens that we kind of live in the same neighborhood. Anyway, I got there early to do some work. When I walked in there was a group of Black women—beautiful, I might add—who were walking away from the counter with trays in their hands. One of the women smiled at me and softly said, "Good morning." I didn't know her, but I felt at home in her presence.
That fleeting moment was followed by me ordering coffee and finding a seat, which just happened to be across the room from these women. They were in my direct line of sight. Even though they were sitting in regular ole chairs at regular ole tables in Panera Bread talking and laughing and such, in my mind they looked like this Chester Higgins photograph:
I felt silly, but I wanted to know them. In fact, I was g-mail chatting with girlfriend extraordinaire, Courtney, and I told her that there was a group of FABULOUS Black women in Panera and I wanted to be their friend. Deep in my heart I was serious. There was something about this women. Don't get me wrong, I have wonderful sistah/girl/friends that are near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, they are geographically far away, and I sure could use some sistah/girl/friends in geographical proximity. And here they were...
But how does a grown woman go about making new friends, other grown women, in a coffee shop. Cheesy pick-up lines? Crashing their table? Complementing their outfits? How about a connection that only God could provide.
So as I schemed, Jameel came into the spot. He sat down and we began to talk life, theology, and preaching. But something about this group of women held my attention. So I fessed up. I went through the whole I feel silly thing, but there is a group of fabulous women over there and I really want to be their friend. Well, wouldn't you know it...Jameel turned his head and it turned out he knew two of the women (one of which was the woman who said good morning) from his previous church. He spoke very highly of them: they were God-fearing women; they were smart women; they were family women; they were beautiful women; they were resilient women. He offered to introduce me, but I declined; I felt stupid. We moved on in our conversation. They were still in my sight, but for the moment they were out of mind.
As it would happen, as they were leaving the two women that Jameel knew came over to greet him. And then it happened...he introduced us and told them that I was over at the table admiring them. We talked a bit and exchanged numbers. I was grateful and excited to have some women—Christian women—in my neck of the woods to talk with, laugh with, to glean from, and to offer my gifts to. I am looking forward to joining their circle.