I order my latte with whole milk.
None of this ‘low fat’ stuff…..I like the creamy, rich taste in my coffee. Personal choice.
I select a place in the sun. The table has four chairs, and there’s only me. I sit down anyway. No point considering others when no one knows me here, right? What to do as I slowly sip the nectar of the morning. Bible? Computer, catch up on emails? Perhaps just chill and look out the window at this beautiful spring morning…. But today the Message calls….
As I read about the some of the last words of Paul the Apostle in 2 Timothy and write thoughtfully about the closeness of a Saviour who is always there even when others have ‘run’, even when we may feel deserted and alone…I am engrossed. Suddenly a voice from a table behind me disturbs…. interrupting my train of thought. After a while it really invades my space. So naturally I reluctantly listen in on the conversation.
“So what are you reading today my friend? Oh…First Samuel? “
My ears prick up.
Unexpected, the answer comes in garbled speech that only the person mouthing the sounds understands, surely. Certainly I do not. Words stream out of the responder’s mouth like coins from a Vegas slot machine as the jackpot is hit. Words that speak care, remarkably loving.
No one else in the coffee shop even seems to notice. So I return to my own world.
I hear an attempt at words again….His thoughts tumble all over the coffee shop as he fights to bring what’s happening in his mind out in the open. My seated friend responds.
And immediately it takes me back. To a man who impacted my life like few others. Ever. His was a brain tumour, but today, whatever the cause, the garbled words of the man behind my chair on the next table brings back a memory buried and forgotten on this lovely spring day in Minnesota. Perhaps only Jesus knows what he is really trying to say.
And then attention turns to the caring, beautiful words of the first man. Slowly he translates the words and stamps the gobbledygook sentences with value and integrity. He looks into the eyes of the one whose words are imprisoned, trapped inside his body. Knowing his thoughts and communicating with the same Saviour with whom I was also communicating seconds before. The man is trapped in a world which values communication, but in its own style.
The kind hearted man sees further than appearances.
As the stilted but friendly conversation ends, there’s a knitting of two hearts and a common love for Jesus. There in the coffee shop. Words of no meaning it seems, in my understanding. And yet a world of relationship shared this day.
As the man on the table behind me rises to leave, slinging his backpack roughly across his shoulder, he grabs his takeout cup of coffee and thoughtfully sips. Lifting it in a farewell salute to his friend, he puts his shoulders back, straightening his load. He strides meaningfully between the tables and makes his way for the door.
But on the way he stops again.
So close to me that I can hear his next conversation well now, he bends to chat to an obese young man who’s entered the coffee shop a few minutes before. This is the kind of guy you avoid. His are filthy clothes and he sports marks on his shorts at the back where he’s failed to clean himself up…. His demeanor seems jolly, but his appearance is repulsive. My neighbour deliberately speaks such words of concern and kindness him. How’s it going with your schooling? How’s your Dad today? Patting his shoulder. Pouring grace and love all over this misfit of a young man.
He leaves carrying his cup and a sweet smile of contentment breaks out upon the face of the kind coffee shop man. And as he walks along the footpath outside, and I get a full glimpse of the face that accompanies the even kinder voice…my heart melts.
I can’t stop the tears.
They roll down my cheeks, wrecking my carefully applied mascara and blush, tracking on my skin and inconveniently messing up my preparation. That’s the thing….unwarranted emotion that creeps up and stops you in your nice, carefully planned spring day, wryly menacing and secretly annoying.
That’s the thing…it’s so inconvenient.
I’d met Jesus today, first hand, in the actions and heart and words of another. I’d eavesdropped in on the words of the Saviour to one of His kids…..
Help me, Lord. I need to be interruptible. Everyday.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
SUBSCRIBE with email or RSS
One thought on “Kindness at the coffee shop”
Oh my goodness Val, you manage to bring tears to our eyes every blog you write. Thank you for sharing this story with us, it reminds me of how gentle souls touch us so much better than forceful ones.