Monday, February 15, 2016

The Night My Beard Evangelized

Yes, you read that right. Last Saturday, while my wife Amy and I were celebrating the death of a martyr the only way we know how -- by going out to eat at a nice restaurant -- my beard did some evangelizing. But, before I elaborate, some notes about my beard:
  1. I hardly ever post pictures of myself on here, so you probably don't know that I have a beard. It's not quite "Jimmy Akin" long, but it's getting there. It recently grew past my collar bone, a sort of milestone in the beard-growing community.
  2. It's red, even though the hair on my head is dark brown. I'm not a geneticist, I don't know how in the world these things happen, but they do.
  3. It's very curly. If I don't comb it daily than I look like a drunk, ginger Santa. *shudder*
All of this means that I get comments on it rather frequently. The beard abides ... but it hadn't yet decided to evangelize until the other night. My discussion with the waiter went something like this:
  • Waiter: I have always wanted to grow a beard like that.
  • Me: Make it happen!
  • Waiter: I can't! I tried once and it grew all patchy and misshapen, made me look like a creeper.
  • Me: I'm sorry to hear that.
  • Waiter: Yours makes you look so ... (he's waving his hand in the air now, trying to come up with the right word)
  • Me: ... professorial?
  • Waiter: Yes, exactly! Nice word! What do you do for a living?
  • Me: I'm the Director of Religious Education at my parish.

He nodded his head in approval and then proceeded to take our order. I thought that was the end of the conversation, but when he brought us our ticket after the meal, he mentioned it again:
  • Waiter: What church did you say you worked for?
  • Me: Blessed Mother.
  • Waiter: Is that a church around here?
  • Me: Yes, it's a Catholic Church here in Owensboro.
  • Waiter: Oh, Catholic! I've always thought that if I ever joined a church it would be a Catholic one. Everything there just seems so much more ... serious.
  • Me: Well, I'm the man to talk to!

I introduced myself, shook his hand, and gave him my contact information. It was all a very pleasant surprise, and I walked away thinking, "All of that started because he liked my beard. My beard just evangelized!" It made me glad to have something that can be a conversation starter, that gets people to open up and share a bit of themselves.

A lot of times, Catholics have trouble extending the invitation to consider the Catholic faith because they don't know how to get past that initial barrier that people put up when they are in a public setting. The organization St Paul Street Evangelization teaches their evangelists to overcome that barrier by simply asking people if they would like a rosary or a Miraculous Medal. My encounter at the restaurant made me realize I had another tool that I could use:

I'm just gonna keep rockin' this beard.

My son Thomas, resting under the bearded mantle of his father.

Pax Christi,


lazylyn said...

Would be great to hear a follow-up on the waiter's journey of faith.

Nicholas Hardesty said...

I hope that I hear from him! I'm sad to say I haven't yet.

Birgit Jones said...

"...resting under the bearded mantle of his father." Love this, and your experience. As a good Protestant friend always reminds me, "Bloom where you grow!"

I hope you have the opportunity for a follow up talk with your waiter!

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