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1 April 2020
Can we sit and chat for a while? Would that be okay? I mean, in an ideal world, you and I would be hanging out at Bourke Street Bakery right now. The guy at the counter pretty much knows how I take my coffee, and he’ll catch on to how you take yours soon enough. I love Bourke Street Bakery, not just because the staff are so friendly (and, just between you and me, the coffee guy, with his tattoos, beard and man-bun, could totally score a magazine cover shoot), and not just because the almond praline croissant is absolutely worth the calories.
No, what I really love about Bourke Street Bakery is how quickly conversation becomes real there. Maybe it’s the atmosphere; maybe it’s the almond praline croissant (seriously, it is that good); maybe it’s the wink the coffee guy gives me when he brings out the coffee; or maybe, just maybe, it’s because we’re all a little weary of the pretence. I don’t know what it is really, but what I do know is that guards are eased down and masks set aside at Bourke Street.
I was talking to a friend not long ago (not at Bourke Street Bakery — I should hit those guys up for a coffee for all the free plugs I’m giving here) about how done I am with fakery in general. I don’t know about you, but it just takes a lot more effort than I am prepared to put in. It’s hard work keeping a mask in place. It’s hard work remembering which mask you wear and when you wear it. It’s hard work trying to be someone you’re not.
I get why we do it, honestly I do. For the longest time I had this idea of who I was supposed to be. Somewhere along the line, I figured that to be loved, to be known, to be accepted in the church, I had to be ‘a good Christian girl’. I had to have it all together, serve well on a Sunday and live well during the week. While I was at it, I’d best keep a smile in place as I did it, too. I was supposed to be demure, ladylike, know all the Christian ‘stuff’ and keep myself untainted by the world. It even sounds exhausting!
Demure and ladylike are two words rarely ascribed to me. I’m loud, my laugh is raucous, I love fiercely, and I relish the fact that I’m still learning ‘the stuff’ (rue the day I think I’ve got it all figured out).
That same friend I mentioned earlier reminded me of something I’ve come to treasure, and maybe it’s a word for you, too. See, when God called me his beloved, he knew that this vessel was cracked and flawed. But regardless, he still calls me his own. In the Bible, Jeremiah chapter 1 verse 5 says that, even before I was formed, God knew me. It’s staggering to think that the creator of the universe, the same one who placed the stars and moon in the sky, causes the waves to roll in and the clouds to roll by, this Sovereign King knows me. And the thing is, he knows you, too.
A mask is heavy — why not set it aside? No need for pretence here, my friend, you are known and you are loved by the King of Kings, and that’s a truth you can rest in. Now, how about an almond praline croissant?
Belinda Cassie is a Salvation Army chaplain with the Salvos’ Inner City Social Mission, Sydney.