For ages, America has been keeping a secret. In all of my road-tripping travels, I never unearthed the truth. But this weekend, all of that changed. What was once kept tightly under wrap is now being revealed via this blog. I experienced the Central West End of St. Louis. And it was amazing.
Equally cosmopolitan and quaint, the streets are lined with trees and brick buildings. Dignified and impressive homes on private streets extend from the urban hub outward, like spokes on a wheel. Boutiques and antique shops and restaurants keep the sidewalks busy with shoppers. Companion is a notable coffee shop; between free Wi-Fi and 30 cent mini-cookies, it worked its way into my heart very quickly.
The people-watching was awesomely diverse, with everyone from skinny hipsters to older couples walking hand-in-hand. My favorite find was a slightly cross-dressing man, almost retro in style. He wore tight jeans and a leather jacket, but also a woman’s blouse, diamond earrings, and pink lipstick. I watched him from my perch in the window of a restaurant, walking up and down the sidewalk on his cell phone. He was animated and flamboyant, gesturing wildly and laughing freely. It gave me the sense that if I sat down to talk with him, I’d probably think he was fabulous.
I watched other people pass him on the sidewalk, gaping and gawking at his gaudy get-up. It made me sad that we make assumptions about people before ever talking with them. Because when I walked past this man, I overheard him talking about a “costume change,” and I thought, I wish I could get in on that conversation. He was vibrant and colorful, and just as valuable as anyone else.
It reminded me of a speaker that I heard on a weekend retreat in college. I don’t remember who he was – I think he was famous, though. One of those Christian authors who are all the rage for a little while, and then fade into the background until they write another Prayer of Jabez or whatever. But this man talked about how we need to “ascribe worth” to every person that we meet. To every person that we come into contact with. To every person that we interact with at the grocery store and the mall and at work and in our homes.
With everyone that we come across, we need to take the posture of saying, “I ascribe worth to you.”
I think that would change the world.
Just my thoughts. And St. Louis was awesome.