We gathered around the square of tables, as usual, and had a light and lively discussion for a while and then, we went on a field trip to Waffle House. The class is called Writing as a Spiritual Discipline. Naturally, WaHo’s the place to go.
We were asked to try not to stare, but pick someone in the Waffle House to write about, keeping Frederick Buechner’s quote in mind:
“The next time you walk down the street, take a good look at every face you pass and in your mind say, ‘Christ died for thee.’ That girl. That slob. That phony. That crook. That saint. That damned fool. Christ died for thee. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee.”
I wrote about our server and started thinking about the last WaHo server I interacted with, about three years ago. My family and I had gone to a holiday family gathering in Eldridge, Alabama. We stopped at Waffle House for breakfast on our way home. My dad gave the server his usual “we’re eating out speech.”
“We’re in the habit of praying for our meal. Is there anything we can remember in prayer for you?”
She teared up, thanked him for asking and quickly relayed her financial woes and requests for herself and her family.
You never know the stories behind tired smiles. People who put the needs of the customer first do have lives of their own. The hand that places the plate in front of me may be the same hand that raised up in praise the night before, for some unforeseen blessing.
The hands that refill my water may be the same hands that, earlier this week, cradled the fragile hands of an aging loved one.
The hand that placed my silverware may have recently wiped away a tear of pain or sorrow, or of joy and celebration.
I pray that the hands that served me today will be blessed and through them, the others she has and will serve, will also be blessed.
The wrinkled hands of sister Genoveva cradle my own, then reach up to stroke my face as her eyes tell me the joys and pains of her year in San Quintin, Mexico since I was last here.
I hear Maggie wake up from her nap. I turn to Grace to tell her “I’ll be right back, I have to go get Maggie.” At the pitter-patter of three-year-old feet behind me, I turn around just as Gracie slips her tiny hand into mine.
In the quiet of my room, my fingers tap the computer keys, placing and removing, moving and replacing the words of God that will flow humbly from my mouth to my listener’s hearts.
God, make my hands
strong that they may strengthen feeble sisters,
gentle that they may help to guide my tiny friends
God, make my hands and heart your instruments to bring your peace and the hope of Christ to the world.
– Amen –