The following story lends itself well to worship service. Think multiple readers, puppets, bananas on the alter… I’d love to hear how you adapt it and make it yours! And yes, it is a true story. Banana Woman is alive and well. Last time I saw her she was blowing bubbles out her car window while stopped in traffic.
Reader 1: There once was a young woman who went to school in New York City. She was nervous about going to New York City. It was much bigger than anything she had experienced. The skyscrapers were soooo tall. The amount of people seemed endless. The beautiful sculptures and fancy-dressed culture were like nothing she knew. Amidst the bustle and color and richness she saw people with hollowed eyes holding out their hands in hunger. This wasn’t something she had seen before.
Reader 2: She asked her mentor what do with this. He told her that she would know what to do when the time was right she just needed to open her heart to love. And so she went back to school and soon the idea came to her. Bananas.
Reader 1: She took her bus money and bought as many bananas as she could buy and hold on her 20 block walk to school. Bananas were the perfect food for her mission. They were soft to wiggly teeth. They were rich in potassium for people who were nutritionally deficient. They came naturally prepackaged – and she later found she could write hopeful messages and drawing on the peels. To each person that held out a hand or a Styrofoam cup for spare change she held out a banana. She looked deeply into their eyes and smiled. She did this every morning that she went those 20 blocks back and forth to school.
Reader 2: She learned a lot in her classroom, but the young woman had other teachers, as well. She grew to recognize, to know, to love the banana people. She never knew their given names, but gave them each nicknames. There was the woman asking for change who took out each of the copper coins and rubbed them over and over until they were shiny. The young woman called her Penny. There was the man who made funny monkey noises whenever she handed him a Banana. The young woman called him George after Curious George. There was the woman who held a sign with a plea to help her and her three kids as she was out of work. She was named Mother. There was the young man who had a different hustle every day and she dubbed him The Business Man.
Reader 1: She had a favorite. Rasta Man. He had the most glorious dreadlocks and Caribbean accent. He didn’t ask for money so much as he stood on a street corner and loudly proclaimed the coming apocalypse mixed with governmental travesties. On the first day of the bananas he stopped his banter long enough to ask what she was doing with all the bananas. She cheerfully handed over a banana and he remained a customer ever since. When he saw her coming down the street he would wave him arms in greeting and call, “Banana Woman! She is coming!” There were others and they each had their nicknames. And as their familiarity grew the boundaries fell away. The young woman would greet them with a smile, a banana and a hug.
Reader 2: This went on for the three years that she was in school in New York City. Her time came to graduate and go back to her home. A feeling of sadness came over her as she realized there would be no one left to keep on with her banana mission.
Reader 1: She bought her last bunch of bananas and began her walk back. As she gave her banana and hug, she told each of her friends that she was going back home and wouldn’t see them again. Each was appreciative and wished her well. And she wished them well. As she came close to her destination she still had 6 bananas left. She noticed a man sleeping in the doorway of a church and quietly approached him, careful to not wake him up. She placed the bananas in a halo around his head and marveled at how he looked just like an angel. Then she thought of his surprise when he woke up encircled in fruit and she laughed to herself.
Reader 2: Further down her last block, Rasta Man greeted her. She smiled and hugged him and then sadly realized that she had no bananas left to give him. She pointed to her banana angel and they both chuckled. She apologized for greeting him empty handed.
Reader 1: “Dear Banana Woman, I will miss you and the bananas were good. But it wasn’t bananas that you gave me.”
Reader 2: Banana Woman, thought for a moment and wondered what he thought she had been giving him. Knowing that his world was different than the world she knew and lived in, she wanted to better understand. “What did I give you, Rasta Man?”
Reader 1: He held out his hand and covered her heart. Her eyes instantly filled with tears.
“I am going to miss you, Rasta Man!”
Reader 2: Rasta Man bellowed his big laugh and then said softly, “No, I’ll be right here” as his hand remained resting on her heart. “And you will always be right here.” He took her small hand and placed it over his heart.
Reader 1: And they remained together ever since. The lesson learned that day lives in everything Banana Woman does.
Reader 2: We are all connected.
Reader 1: There are lessons to be learned from everyone and everything.
Reader 2: And once we learn a lesson, we must breathe life into it by putting it into action.
Reader 1: Justice is a transformative dialogue requiring an open mind, a loving heart, and helping hands
Reader 2: We are from the church of the open mind, the loving heart, and the helping hands. We have solutions right here and we are not alone.