Cris and Joe exchange a vigorous hand-shake, and just as Joe is about to join his shoveling friend, Cris interjects:
I and my friend here, he points at my crouching figure still holding an empty Publix bag in my hands, waiting for the delivery of the next shovelful of dirt… we were just talking about the Lord. Do you know the Lord Joe?
Cris is not beating around the bush, and Joe doesn't strike me as 'beating around the bush' kind of guy either. I am half-amused half-intrigued to see how this is going to unfold. I don’t have to wait long.
Lord? Aaaaah Lord! Joe replies, O Lord and I are like THIS – he lifts his hand with the pointing and middle fingers pressed together in inseparable unity. We are like… best buddies.
Cris’ face beams with pure joy. Here we are, gathered around the compost pile of all places, four complete strangers, worshiping the Lord together. Joe’s shoveling friend is included in this community by proxy. Cris hasn’t determined the nature of his relationship with the Lord yet.
Even though it’s quite warm, a shiver goes down my spine. Something about the gesture and Joe’s inflection when he says ‘best buddies’ makes me cringe.
Really?!!?! That’s wonderful!, says my friendly giant, not a trace of guile. I met Jesus five months ago. I love my church! You can come to visit any…
Joe continues as if Cris said none of this.
The Lord loves me so much, I am like his favorite. He gave me gold… gold teeth, see... Joe stretches out a corner of his mouth to reveal quite a sight of dental carnage. He sent a bullet through my mouth on my last tour and saved my life so I can get gold instead of my old yellow teeth.
My heart sinks into my dirt filled shoes.