He was green. Like, really green. The Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, a young, green man wearing a hospital bracelet wanders into the sanctuary during worship and sits in the back. And he’s green. After worship, he asks an usher if he can speak to me, and the usher escorts him to a front pew and lets me know. I finish up the usual after worship chatter, assuming that the green man will have a bundle of crazy to drop on me and wanting time and a clear mind to give him. It can be very difficult to focus on a meaningful conversation with a line of people anxiously waiting to set up meetings or share news.
He is green because he has apparently taken a green magic marker and covered himself with it. He has a hospital bracelet from being admitted the previous night, but can’t explain exactly why he was there, or why he was discharged. I believe he is high on marijuana (legal in my state). He was happy, engaging with those walking by and very excited to have been welcomed into the church. He has a question, a very important question:
When he dies, he wants to be returned to the earth from whence he came. And he wants to do it in the most natural way possible. As a professional representative of God, how long did I think it would take fire ants to eat his body?
I obviously had no answer, and tried to divert the conversation several times, but he was intent. I admitted I had no answer and he finally gave up. We chatted for another 15 minutes about live, love and the pursuit of happiness, and with an invitation to return anytime, he went on his way.
We never know what people might need when they walk through our doors. And we may not have the answer. But we can always have a welcoming smile and a few minutes of time so they will know they are cared about. Even if they are green.