A few Sundays ago several of my grandchildren and my husband were in town. The children were leaving with their mom at noon to go on a little vacation so we took them to the Brookfield Zoo in the morning. After they took off, we decided that we would go to the 4 p.m. jazz worship service at Fourth Presbyterian on Michigan Avenue. The service was held outside and it was lovely (although the sirens were a little loud at times). My husband was going to drive home to Peoria that evening so we decided to find someplace close by to get a bite to eat before he left. We walked toward where our car was and discovered a small Asian restaurant tucked into the corner of the Whitehall Hotel. Perfect—we each ordered some appetizers to share before he left.
The woman who was host, wait staff, and generally in charge of the restaurant (I don’t think she also had to cook) came to talk with us when we were finishing up. Her English was far better than our familiarity with her first language, but it was still a little bit of a broken conversation. She asked if we lived nearby. (I had heard her greet a few people by name.) I said no, that we had just been to worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church next door. She asked us what kind of church it was and then she made the sign of the cross on her hand. She asked if it was that kind of church. We said, yes, that was right. She then said, “I am. . “ and she put her hands near her face in an attitude of prayer. My husband said, “Buddhist,” and she said, “Yes, the Buddha! My husband and daughter are (and then she made the sign of the cross on her palm again) but I am Buddha.” She then let us know that she is happy when anyone worships in whatever way they choose and we let her know we felt the same way. It was a lovely ending to a beautiful afternoon.
When I was in a theology class in seminary, we were talking about other world religions. One of the other students kept referring to “their gods.” The professor finally stopped him and said, “Exactly how many Gods do you think there are?” In our little encounter in a small restaurant on a Sunday afternoon we were reminded of the answer to that question. The joy on the woman’s face when she told us about her family’s faith and hers reminded us that there is only one God who loves us and intends that we live full lives in the knowledge of that love. When we share God’s love, we bring hope to those we meet and, for us, that hope comes through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Susan D. Krummel (Sue)
Presbytery of Chicago