“Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.”
This morning as I was prepping to head for the coffee shop to start the next column, this song came to mind. How nice it is to have a place “where everybody knows your name.”
When I walk in, Barista Amanda will say with a smile, “Hi, Rhonda. How are you today?” Lynette, the kitchen manager, either waves and smiles, or she greets me by name with a, “How are you?” as she slides fresh scones into the display case.
Some mornings, it’s very quiet as I write. Strangers stroll in and out, grabbing coffee or a chai for the road as they trundle off to work. Here and there, a familiar face walks by and grins and waves.
This morning it was busy. One of our youth pastors was sitting close by, talking to a young couple.
A neighbor from just up the road came in. We exchanged hellos and talked about tomorrow’s race, which we are both running (in addition to The Mister and Brave #1) in an effort to raise money for the youth group’s current project.
In fact, this particular gentleman is doing something amazing. He is a self-declared 300-pound hater of running, but he’s running the 5K – twice – to raise money on his own for 2 charities he’s become passionate about, those being Family Christian Development Center here in town, and a ministry that works to free children and women who have been trafficked as slaves in the sex industry.
For the past number of weeks, we’ve seen him out on the road with his iPod, preparing for his race of a lifetime. All this, of course, in addition to his own work as a youth pastor in a local church.
My friend Shirley stopped by my table on her way through from the coffee pot. I only know Shirley from meeting her there, but week after week after week, her face appears as I’m writing. She comes over, we chat, we connect for a few brief moments, and then she’s off again. She has become my friend simply through this weekly encounter.
At another table sat a former small church leader from our church. I’ve gathered some priceless tidbits of small-town chit chat from him, which I’ve shared with you on the blog. They just lost a six-month-old granddaughter very unexpectedly from a brain tumor diagnosed only days before she died. They’re hurting.
In line in front of me was another friend from church. Her husband has been without work for close to two years now, but she had great news for me today. Starting Monday, he has a job! She was taking a personal day from her job as an elementary school teacher in town to spend time with her sweetheart, celebrating the Lord’s provision and the end of a very stressful period. I love happy endings.
As we talked, a friend’s mother passed by, and I reached out to touch her arm. Last week, she was the Lord’s answer to my prayer for encouragement, thrown upward as I was preparing to go write. I’ve never spoken with her before. I know her face. I know her daughter, but I didn’t know her.
My prayer was beautifully answered when we struck up a conversation (how does that happen anyway?), and by the time we were done, she had offered a prayer over me that had me in tears and left me amazed at the glimpse I’d been given into the heart of a loving Father.
I also saw the Grabers, who come in every week just like I do. They are the owners of a local flooring company, salt-of-the-earth, steadfast, faithful people who survived a fire that destroyed their shop and used it to testify to the goodness and the faithfulness of God. They inspire me as they volunteer and work in and around the town, praying for other business owners, that God will bless them and send them work.
So many stories. Such a rich tapestry on display as I watch the comings and goings and the interactions of common, everyday, ordinary people.
In New York City, my name would be “Next.” As in, “Here’s your venti pumpkin spice latte, sir. Next!” But in my small, hometown coffee shop, they know my name. And I know theirs.