I keep having arguments in my head about where to find Saint John of the mall.
I can’t decide where to look when it’s time to think about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Because the obvious place to look is the big fountain, outside J.C. Penney. I found him there once before. But when I think about foot washing, I suddenly think about the manicure place. And the idea of walking in and expecting someone else to take care of your feet. And finally looking over the top of the magazine and discovering that it’s Jesus.
I try to figure out which of the eye places to find him in front of when I want to talk about the blind man that Jesus healed. Because there’s an optical place. And there’s a sunglasses store. And either of those would allow for a clever twist of the story.
But I think that now John is at Penney, watching the man ringing the bell by the Salvation Army kettle. He’s a man who is trying to be helpful, working minimum wage, ringing a bell so that other people can have a shot at Christmas. The bell triggers tips as the shoppers rush home with their treasures.
And then John say, “you laugh about the rushing shoppers, but where is your bell?”
I start to look for him to talk about the time that Jesus got into a debate with religious people and they wanted to stone him. And I figured that it would happen by the TVs in Sears. Because Jesus could get into an argument with someone about the false religion of sport.
And John’s not there. But as I walk out of Sears, I see him at one of the little tables by Auntie Anne’s. He’s leaning across the table listening to a young couple. I recognize them from one of the Dead Sea spa carts. I try to get past those carts without making eye contact. But here’s John, listening to questions, explaining something.
As I walk toward them, I hear him say something about Abraham’s hope. He looks up at me and warns me away with a shake of the head.
And I realize that Saint John has conversations with people that I can never predict in places that I can’t control. And I realize that he’s not available for trivial pursuits.
Pretty much like his friend Jesus.