I recently returned from a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, where I had the opportunity to offer my ministry of blessing and praying for people on the street. I set up shop downtown, right outside Christ Church Cathedral in the shade of a magnolia tree. As I was putting on my stole, a tractor pulling a party wagon drove by. The passengers were dancing — rightfully so — to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”
I made the sign of the cross through the air while they cheered, raised their beers to me, and took my picture. These wagons and other party busses are a dime a dozen, especially since Nashville is the most popular destination for bachelorette parties in the U.S. Who knew?
But aside from the busses and the number of times I said, “God bless y’all,” my experience blessing passersby in Nashville was not much different from my experience in Manhattan.
Most people ignored me. I got a fair number of smiles and nods from others who walked past. One man wouldn’t look at me but waved as if to say, “I’m embarrassed to be doing this, but I would feel bad if I didn’t acknowledge you.” Total high school adolescence vibes.
Then there were those who stopped. As usual, prayer requests varied.
I’m running the marathon tomorrow. Can I get a blessing for that?
My 13 year old daughter needs healing from trauma.
We’re here celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary!
I want a new job, but what I really want is a black Chevy Tahoe.
I left my husband after 23 years of marriage, and now he’s turning our children against me.
I just love the Lord and want him to use me as a vessel of grace.
And while not a prayer request… Do you know where I can find a boutique?
This from a woman wearing sparkly cowgirl boots, biking shorts, and a sweatshirt that read “Howdy” in big letters across the front. (In fact, I did know where she could find a boutique. But I hope she continued to sport that awesome outfit for the rest of the day.)
I didn’t walk away with any great spiritual insights — just an appreciation for our common humanity and gratitude for the privilege of sharing in people’s joys and struggles through a word of prayer.
I was also grateful for a few good laughs. Perhaps I should give the last one to a lady who got a kick out of my sign, which read, “Ask me for a blessing. God knows you need it.” Her response: “Ain’t that the truth!”