We’ve been church shopping lately, so eating Sunday lunch out is becoming a habit. Today our waiter was a young man, probably in his late 20s. We were a party of 9, and there had just been another large party seated in his section before we arrived. He didn’t appear to be too happy to see us. Later when we started to order, he caught that we were looking at the time. So he asked us if we were in a hurry. Me, forever the optimist, said, “Well, yes we are,” thinking that he would put a rush on our food. But nooooooo. He said, “Well, you have to understand, it’s Sunday afternoon, we’re really packed, your food is going to take a while.” I was a bit taken aback, but we were gracious and told him we understood, no problem, we wouldn’t hold him responsible. It turned out he was a prompt waiter, not much on niceties, no affection for the children, but good on service. When it got time to pay the bill, I thought about the gospel tracts and prayer cards I had in my purse that I usually leave when we pay our bill, but I decided he was not going to be receptive and would probably just roll his eyes and say something embarrassing once we were gone.
Then Andres worked his way around the table to me and said, “Mom, I want to leave him a prayer card, can I have one?” My thoughts raced as I prepared to explain to my son that I didn’t really think that our waiter was going to have time to look at a prayer card, that he was too busy. But, alas, I could not disappoint my eager son. So I figured he was just going to leave it on the table, but nooooooo. He waited for the waiter to come back to the table to pick up our credit card and Andres said, “Here, I have this for you.”
The waiter looked at it and instantly his face lit up and softened. A look of recognition washed over him. “What do you have there, buddy?”
Andres: “It’s a prayer card.”
The Waiter: “Oh, thanks. I’ve been having a rough day, and I really needed this.”
From there he asked what church we went to and told us that he had been knowing he needed to get back to church and was trying to attend on Saturday nights. There wasn’t much evangelizing – I wish I would have been better prepared – but I was able to encourage him to keep going to church.
Again, I was reminded there are all kinds of beautiful and God knows them all by name, He made them, He loves them, and He has a plan for them.
I’ve read the prayer card, and I didn’t really feel like God was speaking to me through it. Today as I contemplate where I am in life and in relationships, I think I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly.
The prayer card Andres gave him:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
– St. Francis of Assisi