The Diner Church

I took myself out to lunch today at the little diner my friend and I like to frequent once a week or so. I sat at a table in the little back room with its burgundy oilcloth tablecloths, the salt and pepper shakers sitting neatly in the wire basket caddy along with the sugar and Sweet & Lo. I brought my copy of "The Jesus I Never Knew" to read while I sipped my coffee out of my thick, white ceramic mug while indulging in two evil cigarettes - one before lunch and one after. But I did more musing than reading.

It was Rhonda's birthday today, and someone had scribbled the announcement on the chalkboard over the cashier's desk. Rhonda, a sweet young mother of two came bubbling over to my table to show off her new birthday haircut. It was adorable, and I told her so. Rhonda always makes it a point to be friendly, and bubbly and kind. I sat there listening to the hubbub in the other room. All the waitresses were bubbly, and kind. They were bantering with the regulars, flirting with the 80-year-old men, squatting down to coo and ahhh at the baby in her car seat carrier. The waitresses there serve everyone joyfully, and serve everyone joy.

Isn't that what church should look like?

Last week Brenda and I were cashing out our $5.25 lunch special and talking to Rhonda about being "regulars" now. Rhonda started talking about how she cares about all the people there. She said that she'd noticed that one of her regulars, a man in his mid-80s, had been gone for a few days, and he's usually there every morning. Somehow from conversation she had an idea where this man lived, and so after work she drove around and found his place and knocked on the door. Undoubtedly he was surprised. She sat and visited with him for over an hour, and found out that he'd been in the hospital for a few days, which explained his absence. I'm sure he was touched that this waitress cared enough to track him down, (stalking him, the other waitresses teased her). What a loving and kind act.

I think the Antique Kitchen diner is what church should look like. I think I should be more like Rhonda, and I think I should tip her more than I do.


gerbmom said...

I agree Anne. Imagine what an impact we could have on people if that was the way we operated! Joy, concern, love, interest, just plain noticing things about people. Wow. We have a lot of work to do to be as welcoming as our favorite local resturant don't we?

kingsjoy said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I hope to become more like the waitress, too. I get really frustrated with myself about this sometimes. One step at a time, right?

Tracey of the brokenweed said...

Anne, your post reminded me of a song by Carrie Newcomer:
1. Miranda works the late night counter
in a joint called Betty’s Diner
chrome and checkered tablecloths
one steamy windowpane
she got the job that shaky fall
and after hours she’ll write till dawn
with a nod and smile she serves them all

here we are all in one place
the wants and wounds of the human race
despair and hope sit face to face
when you come in from the cold
let her fill your cup with something kind
eggs and toast like bread and wine
she’s heard it all so she don’t mind

2. Arthur lets his Earl Grey steep
since April it’s been hard to sleep
you know they tried most everything
yet it took her in the end
Kevin tests new saxophones
but swears he’s leaving quality control
for the Chicago scene, or New Orleans
where they still play righteous horns


3. Jack studies here after work
to get past high school he’s the first
and his large hands seem just as comfortable
with a hammer or a pen
Emma leaned and kissed his cheek
and when she did his knees got weak
Miranda smiles at Em and winks


you never know who’ll be your witness
you never know who grants forgiveness
look to heaven or sit with us

4. Deidra bites her lip and frowns
she works the Stop and Go downtown
she’s pretty good at the crossword page
she paints her eyes blue black
Tristan comes along sometimes
small for his age and barely five
but she loves him like a mamma lion

5. Veda used to drink a lot
almost lost it all before she stopped
comes in at night with her friend Mike
who runs the crisis line
Michael toured Saigon and back
hair the color of smoke and ash
their heads are bowed and their hands are clasped
one more storm has passed


anne said...

David, yes. I want to be more like the waitress too. You're right - one step at a time. We're lucky to still here in school!

anne said...

I love that song! I mean, I love those lyrics. I've never heard the tune, which was even better. How amazing in the way that reflects my diner-church experience. Thanks so much for posting those!

anne said...

Karen, I'm going to be thinking about that for awhile. One day in church our pastor set up a table in the front full of bread, cheese and other snacks, and people milled around right in the middle of the service and just lived together in community sharing a meal. With chairs that face frontwards, we don't always interact like we would at a diner. I'm going to start introducing myself to more people. Oh, wait! I just remembered - this Sunday I'm a greeter for the first time - a member of the Party Crew. Well, hooray! :)

FD said...

The way you guys (people) are going you'll soon be like that waitress. It's the same spirit prompting her too as you can no doubt recognise. (It's the fruit that counts, not the theories) You're only one step away from healing and setting people free and then the world will sit up and take notice - including some of your religious collegues too who reckon they have all the answers.

Jesus had the same problem. The religious people of the day couldn't understand how such an unholy person as him could heal the sick and do miracles. To them it didn't add up! We are going to run into the same problem soon.


gaston said...

And still we have the guts to go around saying there's no loving people in the world sometimes.

Talk about a "good samaritan" story!

BTW. Coffee and Cigarettes. Sounded so good. (I never smoked cigarettes, but it doesn't matter) Sounded great. Loved the whole story.