This morning, I was reflecting on a couple of recent encounters with my Starbucks community. Of the three ‘regulars’ I visited with, PJ (not his real name) was the first to arrive. He doesn’t usually come so early and that made me curious. After completing my writing for the morning, I went over to check in. We exchanged the usual niceties about the holiday but it was what followed, as I allowed time for listening, that was memorable. PJ, it turns out was early because he and the rest of his family had been sick all weekend. And even more meaningful information followed as we discussed the state of mental health care in the community. TJ disclosed some of the most intimate facts about a close family member who had been hospitalized and required constant care for a serious mental illness. He went further: the family member died only a few months ago at much too early an age.
How does this type of sharing occur between two men who only know each other from brief exchanges at Starbucks? I’m sure that there are a lot of factors at play here but I’m equally sure—certain, in fact—that if I hadn’t stopped and waited for a full conversation to take place, I would have missed the opportunity to enter this sacred space.
God speaks to me in so many ways and I am thankful for His voice. I am also humbled that He has chosen me to be a vessel for sharing stories like this one. I wrote not long ago that, for me, Jesus is the ‘real deal.’ Jesus had the most important mission ever and it was fulfilled not by hurriedly going to places his advisors and handlers (read: disciples!) urged but rather, by stopping and listening to the least influential and those who suffered silently, regardless of time or location. His was an itinerary informed by His Father’s love. Emulating Jesus’ love and following His path is what I seek in my own imperfect journey.