Chandler has turned out to be a big part of the ministry here at Roberts Wesleyan College. I shouldn’t be surprised. He has been a big part of everything I’ve learned since he was born. He has a way of somehow being in the middle of experiences that stretch you. He was actually doing this before he was old enough to know what he was doing. Like the fourth of July when Chandler, at barely nine months old was right in the middle of teaching me a huge lesson about being prejudiced.
We live in a tourist town that fills up on most summer holidays, Independence Day being the worst, and parking your car is impossible. Fortunately we live close enough to the center of town that we don’t mind walking. So wanting to go out to dinner, we strapped Chandler into one of those front-loaded baby packs where you wear the kid on your chest facing out, and walked into town. Chandler used to love riding on my chest because he could see everything and wave his arms and legs freely.
After finding all our favorite restaurants filled to overflowing, we finally settled on a place we hadn’t been to before. We were a bit cautious wondering why it wasn’t as full as the others, and also wondered why they didn’t have any high chairs when we requested one. We decided to stay anyway, since it was the only place we didn’t have to wait for a table, and I just keep Chandler strapped to my chest which turned out to be a disaster since it put him within reach of my food.
It wasn’t until we had ordered that Marti asked me to look around and see if I noticed anything different about this place. I looked and noticed that with the exception of one table with two women, the place was a full of men. Then it dawned on me — we were in a gay restaurant.
It was right about then that Chandler started acting up. As soon as the food came Chandler got his fingers in it. I tried to sit sideways to keep him away but that only made me uncomfortable and made him scream. And the more he screamed, the more uncomfortable I became trying to ignore the fact that all eyes were on us. I especially noticed two older gentlemen who were looking disparagingly over at us quite a bit, and all I could think of at the time was that I had a few things on them, too.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and told Marti to finish up; I would take Chandler and wait outside. Which I did, and as Marti got up to leave a few minutes later, I noticed she went over and spent a good deal of time talking to the two older gentlemen who had made me so uncomfortable. I shouldn’t have been surprised; she doesn’t have a judgmental bone in her body.
“What was that all about?” I questioned her as soon as she joined us.
“Oh, I just went over to apologize for ruining their dinner, and you know what they said? They said they couldn’t take their eyes off our baby because they are both retired physicians, and for the last few months they’ve been volunteering to help care for babies with AIDS — over 400 of them to be exact. ‘We were just remarking about how wonderful it was to see a happy baby,’ they said.”
Chandler’s first lesson. Take your robe off … put your gavel away … we have no business judging anyone.