Thursday, December 29, 2016
in the midst of the noise at Waffle House
It was Christmas morning and the only place open was Waffle House. This eatery chain is not high on my list of healthy cuisine providers, but we had little choice. It was crowded. Music was playing, orders were being shouted out to unseen cooks and as we sat at the counter, I feared that I might have to run out of there screaming.We live quiet lives, John and I, and it felt as if the din was attacking my brain. My nerves were fraying, as I looked at the menu. Slowly, I adjusted and began to watch the crowd. Busy, bustling wait staff, smiling Christmas happy patrons, I started to like it.
Our waitress was Lettie, a fifty-ish lady with straight brown hair held by her ball cap.She was pleasant, attentive and seemed to care that we were well served.
In my prayers leading up to Christmas, I had come to understand that I was to be available to love others, touch them and make them feel the love that is the gift of Christmas.I internalized this in some way because I almost patted the swollen belly of an Indian woman who was coming out of the Mass before ours, the night before.I was so delighted that she was about to bring a baby into the world, that I had to stop myself from patting her belly with my stranger's hand. Instead, she got a smile.
As John paid the bill for our breakfast, I felt the strongest urge to find Lettie. I went behind the counter a bit and thanked her for taking such good care of us. I asked her quietly about what time she would get off work. She said she would leave at 10 P.M., which was a double shift, because the next day, she had to go for chemotherapy and wouldn't be able to work. It felt like time stopped as it got quiet around us. All I could do was hug her amid the scrambled eggs, music and noise and tell her that I would pray for her.That night, when we were driving home at 6:30 P.M., we passed the restaurant. She was still there.
It is difficult to put into words how this woman affected me.I am filled with prayer for her and admiration for her grit. It is as if she is wrapped around my shoulders. I am broken by her in a way that I cannot explain. I can never not know her and her story.There is a risk in the life of the spirit. When you hoist yourself up on the Path and say "yes" to all that means, you never know....