We had arrived at the Little Rock airport over an hour prior to my boarding time and since it wasn’t crowded, I knew it wouldn’t take long to get through security. Since it would be my last hour together with my parents for awhile, we decided to get a bite to eat somewhere. The only establishment outside the airport premises and within a 20 minute drive was a Waffle House, or as my mother likes to phrase it, “Awful House”. We decided to risk the gas and grease so that I could fully round out my visit to the South (note the sarcasm).
As we parked next to Awful House, I noticed an older,Caucasian woman smoking a cigarette near the dumpster–an employee on break. Stepping inside we were welcomed and seated by a bubbly African American waitress. She was about to take our order when the woman I had seen outside pushed her aside and muttered, “They don’t want you. They want me because I’m white and your black.”
I was stunned, and thought to myself, “Actually I don’t prefer you because you were just smoking a cigarette and need to wash your hands.”
As she served us our grits and OJ, this older woman complained about a crook in her neck from a recent move.
“Can I pray for your neck?” I asked, right before we headed out.
“Sure. Go ahead.”
As I was praying, something powerfully miraculous happened. It wasn’t that her neck was instantly healed. Something else happened. Something that was healing centuries of hurt. Another person had joined me in placing their hands on her pain and praying for her. I thought at first it was my dad. But when I finished praying and looked up, it was the woman who had seated us! The very woman whom she had moments earlier made racial slurs towards.
Wow! Witnessing moments like that are what give me hope for racial reconciliation on our planet. Here in front of me was an example of “turning the other cheek,” of retaliating a revile with a blessing. Of choosing prayer and healing over hurt and hatred.