“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, Peter,
by the time the cock crows today
you will have denied three times
that you know me.'”
Luke 22: 34 (The Jerusalem Bible)
Lynn, the angel of City Light Mission, turns to me arranging the counter-top crocks of Robert’s homemade ranch salad dressing and the sliced jalapeños, my assignment today with which to greet the first-name only patrons filling their paper plates with the plenty promised by Jesus for those who know today is sufficient for what needs they accept with thanks, a blessing, tables to gather around like family they recall but not as familiar as their companions of the street.
Lynn says as if in passing, “The deacon hasn’t shown, so you can give the devotional,” and without reckoning what my mouth is saying, I reply, much too loud, “Do I look like a preacher?” And, anyway, I need warning in time to prepare. Lynn laughs and says, “Wing it. God will tell you what to say,” and I say you are the angel, and she pokes her finger against my chest as if her touch will heal and says, “Just speak from your heart” and turns to the multitude of lunchtime regulars, and shouts, “Say a quick prayer; Bob’s giving the devotional” and pauses the serving line, and everyone turns toward me holding the ladle for the dressing, the jalapeños, stunned like the apostle Peter hearing that rooster crow confirming Peter’s not yet a saint, not even close, gut-punch guilty, having just denied Jesus three times, but not himself as Jesus admonished, not yet even considering he could take up this cross, walk to his savior extending his hand across the rising waters, Peter and me sinking from sight, the light of all those eyes.