Really good Cinnamon comes from Sri Lanka

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I ran out of cinnamon. On Christmas morning. Right in the middle of making cinnamon rolls, while most of the family still slept. I make them enough on special occasions that although it’s not quite a tradition, it’s at least a habit, almost a vice. But, as you can guess from their very name, without cinnamon my plan was doomed. Doomed I tell you.

Yvonne assured me that some grocery store would be open so I jumped in the car and drove past store after store that had apparently not gotten Yvonne’s memo and had given up on the whole consumerism thing, at least for a few hours. I thought America was this big consumer-driven machine and here it was Christmas morning, the height of consumerism, and there was nary a store to lure me in with cheap ground cinnamon.

Finally I passed one of those gas station/quick marts that appeared to be open, although it had bars on all the windows and doors. I pulled in and went inside. I was the only customer. Could I be the only guy in the city who ran out of cinnamon on Christmas morning? What are the odds? The guy behind the cash register and the woman stocking shelves appeared to be immigrants and appeared to be a couple. Amazingly they had cinnamon. In fact, for a gas station, they had a great selection of spices. Say what you want about the decline of America, I’m willing to bet that most countries in the world don’t have cinnamon in their gas stations. Nor hot dogs that perpetually roll among those steel rods under the heat lamps. I believe the owner had seriously over calculated the number of hot dogs he was going to sell on Christmas morning.

I set my cinnamon down on the counter and made small talk with the man. I tried to pay with a credit card, after all, this purchase represented 2 miles, but the man said I had to buy at least five dollars worth of stuff to use a credit card. I asked if they took cash, he said yes, so I pulled out a fifty and apologetically explained that was all I had. He said – no problem and gave me the change.

“I trust you’ll have a good day,” I said, preparing to leave.

“What ‘trust?’” he asked, confused.

“I ‘hope’ you’ll have a good day,” I explained.

“Oh,” he said. “pray for me”

Well that kind of shook me. Just by appearances and accent I guessed him to be from the Indian subcontinent. Plus the fact that he was working Christmas morning suggested he might not be big into the whole Christmas thing. But here he was, asking me to pray for him.

“Ok,” I said, and closed my eyes and prayed right there, out loud, for him. I ended my prayer by saying, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Whenever I pray in public I recognize that the name of Jesus is the “lightening rod.” Nobody objects to prayer, as long as you keep it generic, or pray to the great spirit in the sky or some generic santa-claus-type figure. But when you bring Jesus into it, it identifies us as His followers.

I could see through my almost-closed eyelids as I prayed that he was taken aback that I’d pray right there in his store. But when I said Jesus’ name, he recoiled and put up his hands in defense.

“No, no, not in Jesus’ name, In God’s name,” he said, as though I had cursed him. I was glad I had already gotten the change from my fifty because at this point I wasn’t sure he would have given it back to me.

This clearly wasn’t the time, perhaps there’s never a time, to argue about such things. The most I could hope for was to not do damage to the reputation of those who follow Jesus, especially on Christmas morning. So I smiled reassuringly and said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay.”

I walked out through the glass doors with bars on them and drove home to make some of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made, glad for those who are far off, yet burdened by them. Not so much for this man and this woman. But convicted that we are surrounded by those who don’t know the amazing story and convicted that I rarely have the right words to tell them about Him.

Now, in reflection, I realize I should have taken them cinnamon rolls once I got them done. What if they were from Sri Lanka? That’s were all the true cinnamon comes from. But now I’m 2,000 miles away. I’ll do better next time. I’m learning every day. Bake on friends, bake on.