True Story: Last night I was on my way to give a retreat to teens and their parents on The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I’ve done it for years and one of my dear friends is kind enough to come with me and assist. The church was an hour away and we left early so that we could stop for dinner, it’s become kind of a tradition!
As we pulled into the restaurant, the parking lot was partially blocked by a car. When I glanced into the drivers seat I saw an elderly man with those heavy-duty sunglasses that the eye doctor gives you after he has dilated your eyes. I began to feel annoyed….he was blocking the spot where I wanted to park.
He soon pulled into a spot, slowly got out of the car and shuffled into the restaurant. I felt like cutting in front of him because he was so slow, but we were caught up in conversation and so he went in ahead of us. When we were seated, he was in the booth across the aisle from us, sitting alone.
I heard him order…..clam chowder and buffalo wings…..he seemed to know the waitress because she spent some significant time with him.
When his soup came, I remember him asking her for some of that cheese that you sprinkle on things. She asked, “Do you mean Parmesan Cheese?” He nodded. I immediately thought, ‘parmesan cheese on clam chowder?????
How weird is that!!!’
Story on pause…
One of the things that I do on the retreat is to try to give some real life situations about using the Gifts of the Spirit. I talk about a new kid coming to their school. Someone who looks different, who dressed differently, who talks funny…I go through the story and then end with them finally deciding to befriend the new kid despite what their peers might say. And then I ask which Gift did they use to get to that point….. We talk a little about judging from appearances and not looking below the surface…..good talk, nice talk…and then it hit me…..I had just lived that very same scenario at the restaurant….I felt a pit in my stomach!
The elderly man finished his meal and left. I glanced at the register when he was paying and I saw him unfolding his money. I wondered if he was counting his dollars hoping there was enough to cover his meal.
As we were getting up to leave, the waitress came over and I was ready to grab the bill. It was the least that I could do for my friend who was accompanying me to the retreat. Instead of handing us the check, the waitress said that our meals had been paid for.
She said that the elderly gentleman who was sitting across from us paid for our meals and also left her a generous tip.
And so I ask you to learn from me…be cautious of the ‘wrapping’. I judged!
The retreat was a success…a big hit….but, I think that the ‘real’ gift was given to me. I don’t mean the gift of a free restaurant meal, I was given the gift of a Gospel meal….with a side dish of humility!