The parson was enjoying himself. Away from his parish, he'd spent the last few days enjoying the performances of some of the country's best dance companies at The American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. Now he stood in a private room of a local bar and restaurant across the plaza from the performing arts center. The dancers of the company were talking about their performances, laughing at a couple of slips the audience had no idea occurred and debating the order of the various pieces. One in particular felt one piece needed to be separated from another because of the physical demands of each.
The parson listened fascinated with this world of which he was but an onlooker. The agility and poise, the polish and presence of these world renowned dancers captivated him. He listened intently to everything they were saying, with only an occasional break to sample the vast assortment of food on the tables.
His captivation was interrupted by a woman in her fifties. “So,” she said, “I'm told you're the father of one of the dance directors and you're a pastor.”
“I am,” said the parson.
He told the woman his name and asked her's. She told him, and then she began her assault.
“Don't you think it a bit weird to be hanging out in a place like this with all the booze flowing and being a pastor?”
“No,” said the parson. “I don't.”
“I like to be around interesting people.”
“Isn't that amusing,” she said. “You don't find your church people amusing?”
“Not tonight,” said the parson. “They're most likely all in bed. So, you folks are all I have to hang out with.”
“You don't mind hanging out with the unredeemed?”
“Is that what I'm doing?”
She stared at him a minute then replied. “Well, look around you.”
The parson looked around. “What am I suppose to be seeing?”
“You're seeing the sinners; that's what you're seeing. You do notice everyone is drinking?”
“That's your definition of sin? Drinking?”
“Well, you damn well know that all these people aren't going to be in church Sunday.”
“That's your definition of sin? Not going to church?”
“Well, what's your definition?”
“Anything that separates you from your relationship with God.”
“You think I have a relationship with God?”
“I don't know. Do you?”
“We're talking about the people in this room not being religious. We're not talking about my relationship with God.”
“Sure we are.”
“No we're not.”
“Look,” said the parson. “You walked across a room filled with people who are celebrities, who are accomplished in their art. Everyone of them is much more interesting than I. And you brought up sin; you brought up the church. I was just enjoying my drink and the company I'm in. Matter of fact, I confess to you I was enjoying not being around church folks. But, if you want to talk about your relationship with God, we can do that.”
She stared at him in a stern manner. Then, without a word, she turned and walked away.