This Morning at Caribou

November 29, 2018

 

This morning after my daily prayer time I felt the nudge to go somewhere other than home. “Caribou?”, I asked the Lord. I believed that was where I was to go, but not being a coffee drinker, it was not a normal place for me to be. I said, “Okay, I’ll watch for whoever you bring across my path.”

Upon my arrival I ordered a hot apple blast and found a small table to sit at. Everyone there was involved with someone or reading, so I did likewise, opening my notebook and then locating the book of The Acts of the Apostles to study something of which I was curious. It wasn’t long before a couple of scenes were acted out in front of me.

A man and two young girls came into Caribou. He appeared to be an older man with two young daughters or granddaughters. I did not see them at the counter, but I assume he paid for the quick breakfast or snack, or whatever it was to them.

He sat down at the table across from me. I noticed him before seeing the others. He removed his topcoat, and looking at me as he sat down, he said nothing. One girl went to his table with two plates; coffee cake or whatever. He asked, “Where are the forks?” She turned to go get some forks. There was nothing encouraging about the exchange. The question actually seemed like a veiled command, or even a light reprimand, to get him a fork.

The second girl went to the table with her own plate. He asked, “Where is your fork?” As she rose to her feet, he noticed the first girl and said, “Oh, she has them.” They all sat down and ate what was on their plates, but as fast as they were seated, it seems, they were suddenly leaving. How did they eat so fast? Why such a rush?

The man sprung up and put on his topcoat. He looked at me once again, for about the fourth time, making eye contact with me but saying nothing. He barely had his coat on as he was heading toward the door. The girls followed behind, stopping to throw away the trash and to return the plates to the counter.

As they left, I felt sorrow for them and for what I had observed. I really do not know them at all, or anything about them, or what was going on in their lives. I don’t even know the relationship among the three of them. It seemed as though he led, and they followed. It also seemed as though they served him in this situation and it was as he expected things to be. I heard no please or thank you, and I saw no smiles or joy. It all seemed to me to be rather impersonal, and each person acted as they thought they were expected to perform.

I began to pray for them as they left; that they would begin to work in unity rather than as leader and followers. I prayed that they would have joy and love expressed in their lives and relationship. I would not know that they were disciples of Christ, if they were, because there did not appear to be love for one another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

John 13:35

 

After my short prayer, I asked, “Lord, is that the church?” I sensed the answer was, “Yes.”

The man was older, appearing to be set in his ways. He was dressed all in black, and I remember looking for a priest’s collar when he first sat down (I did not see one). He sat down, having done his part. He then waited on others to serve him.

The girls were younger and presumably less mature, less educated, and with less experience. They were dressed very casually. This was in great contrast to the man. They did what he expected of them; no more and no less, or at least came up to it when he questioned their less in his eyes (the forks).

From the moment I had entered the coffee shop, I was warmly greeted and acknowledged in word, smiles and head nods, by workers and clientele alike. When this group entered, it was in and out, all about them and their business. The man saw me and made no warm gesture to me. The girls kept their heads down and I don’t know if they ever really observed I was in their presence.

I and the other patrons in Caribou were the world. The old man was the old church leader, giving direction, watching the others, critiquing their service. The two girls who kept their heads down, the church, go about their business, responding to the leader’s direction without independent thought or action.

Contrast this with the family that took the spot of the old church that had left this little world. A mom and two little children went to the table. They each carried something, but they did it together. They talked together. The mother talked to one child, something educational I believe, and had to stop to instruct the other on manners; wait your turn rather than interrupt. But they arrived together, talked together, and left together.

As she gathered her children together to prepare to leave, I said, “Good job mom!” Her response was simply a quizzical look. I said, “With the teaching, and the behavior, good job.” A warm smile came across her face and with a polite head nod she said, “Thank you.”

Their stay wasn’t long, but the love and communion with one another was noticeable. Though they too were probably on some sort of schedule, they did not appear to be rushing about or self-absorbed. This is what church once was and is to become again. Loving and serving one another, with servant leadership. It will interact and have an impact on the world in a positive sense. It will once again be desired by those who are interested in love rather than something that is cold and controlling. The old will need to repent and change their ways, or they will simply be replaced by the new, which is the old, which must come out of the compromise and corruption that is as bad, if not worse than, the world itself.