For those of you that don’t know, being a Chaplain does not get you a big paycheck.  In fact, it gets you no paycheck.  That is unless of course you are a Chaplain in a church or denomination that has money to pay you.  Being a Chaplain at the University means not being an employee of the University, rather it means being recognized by them in that capacity.  So to bring a long point to an end I have “a day job” in order to make money and pay bills.

One of the many things that I do for a living is run my store.  It is a little store in an open market type setting.  Retail shops set up permanently in a warehouse, protected from the weather of central New York, where shoppers can come to our establishments three days a week.  The overhead is such that a small business getting off the ground can find reasonable space at a reasonable rate.  Anyway, I’ve been here a while and I love it.  The people who come in are good people looking for quality items at a fair price.  The other merchants are like me, focused on providing good products and in the process making an income. 

Yesterday was Black Friday.  Our market is not necessarily the type of place that shoppers go to on that day.  We don’t have door buster specials; there aren’t large electronics at outrageous discounts; that just isn’t who we are.  But there were shoppers.  In talking with the people who were walking through most were just looking.  Too exhausted from their 4 am shopping spree at large retail chains, they were here just to look. Throughout the day they came, but there was one person that stood out.  I had been waiting for them from the moment that I opened my store. 

It started like every other interaction I have with customers; I said hello to a woman who had stopped to look at something.  She said hello back and turned to her friend to show her what had caught her eye: a witch ball.  They are beautiful, like stain glass that glitters in the sun.  The friend turned and the look of horror on her face said everything but in the end she had to verbalize it.  “It says witch I don’t want anything to do with it.”  I smiled and explained that they could be considered good luck charms, if nothing else they are just beautiful in their own right.  The woman looked at me and exclaimed again, that it said witch and she didn’t like it.  No longer trying to be a shop keeper I asked if she knew the folklore behind witches’ balls.  Her response was cold: “I don’t know, I don’t want to know.” Looking at me she stated “Everything in this shop is wicked.”  I was silent.  It wasn’t that I was speechless, I had things to say and honestly they weren’t very nice.  I’m human and when I’m attacked I want to fight back, but I saw no win in this argument. As soon as she made her declaration they left.

I was wicked, evil, and had just been confronted by a “christian” who made her statement of truth.  I will not capitalize this title when talking about such hate and bigotry; it takes away from all of the examples of what the Christian faith can be in so many of its followers.  In the end I felt for her.  To live in such fear and hatred cannot be easy.  What would cause someone to be that way?  Don’t get me wrong we have just as many pagans that would behave in the same way to Christians.  That makes me sad, if we are truly polytheistic, henotheistic, then we accept Christianity as one more faith tradition.  But I also realized that this person who was out shopping for the Christian holiday of Christmas, has no idea of what Jesus practiced in his own life. 

Yesterday was not my day to educate her.  It was the day that I experienced “the person” that I knew at sometime would cross the threshold of my store and vocalize their fear.  The gods gave me a gift by getting that experience out-of-the-way so that I can move forward and not worry about what that confrontation will be like. 

Today is a great day, wonderful in all aspects.  May you have such gifts given so that you can move forward tool. Live well.