Sometimes you have to listen to the waitress

I was four hours early for my flight out of Denver. I was hoping that there would be an extra seat on the three flights that would leave prior to my 11:20 a.m. boarding time. The ticket agent laughed when I floated the idea to him. The first of those three had already been canceled and passengers were already being redistributed. “You’re lucky that you’re on that particular flight,” he said.

“Thanks,” I replied with all of the enthusiasm I could muster. “It’s always good to be lucky.”

With the pressure off, I strolled leisurely into the terminal, spotted a sit-down restaurant and settled in for a good breakfast. I had been in Denver for four days and I was proud of my restraint in eating.  Yet, for some reason, hotel rooms have a lot of mirrors and I was reminded at several surprise moments that I should be a bit more disciplined.

So, I scanned the menu, spotted a high protein, low carb plate and hailed the waitress.  “Could I get Eggbeaters instead of whole eggs?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “We don’t have Eggbeaters.”

“Okay,” I said with my healthy move already blunted.  “I’ll take sausage instead of canadian bacon and potatoes rather than tomatoes.”  I figured if the wholesome route was out, I would just wait until lunch to be healthy.

The waitress snapped her book closed, poured me a cup of coffee. I began reading and hardly noticed when she set my plate down a few minutes later. Coming to the end of a chapter, I unwrapped my silverware and pulled the plate to me. Scrambled eggs, canadian bacon, and tomatoes.

“Uh, miss!” I called. The waitress walked slowly over. “I’m sorry, but you got my order wrong.”

She put both hands on the table and leaned ever so slightly toward me. “Didn’t you want Eggbeaters?” she asked.

“Sure, but you didn’t have them. But then I ordered the sausage and potatoes.”

“That was where you made a mistake,” she said. “Somebody wanting Eggbeaters is trying to be healthy. Sausage and potatoes isn’t on the healthy menu. And, you might also notice that I didn’t bring you a croissant.”

She was right. I had noticed that, but I thought I’d start with the big ticket items.

“This is what you need — not sausage, potatoes and bread.”  She stood up straight, flashed me a smile, and walked to help another diner.  I looked around for a manager and then back at the plate. She was right all the way around. This was the breakfast I needed.

I picked up my fork and dutifully ate. And when I paid my check, I gave her a healthy tip. I walked away lower in saturated fats and diminished carbs. Occasionally the voice of reason comes from surprising places. Sometimes you have to listen to the waitress.

In another light

With the holiday weekend ahead of me, I made plans. Big plans.

Actually the project wasn’t that big — just repainting the columns on the front porch and a little touch-up around the garage and back patio. But it seemed big because . . . I didn’t want to do it. And because we didn’t have any matching paint.

So I headed out to the big supermarket of building supplies — where all real men wear aprons — with a long skinny piece of painted caulk that wasn’t faded.

The young man behind the counter pointed me to a large display filled with thousands of color cards. “What you’re looking for is over there somewhere.”

And so the quest began. By process of elimination, I worked my way through the shades and tones and elements of style that were obviously wrong. And then I came to a single color card containing three different, yet similar, colors. With great concentration I studied the card beneath the simulated sunlight lamp. I was amazed to see that the center color was an exact match with the sample I had brought.

Afraid to leave it to chance, I polled several other shoppers who came strolling by. I even exacted a confession from the clerk that indeed, “This is the closest match I have ever seen in my 3 months of working here.”

With that sort of affirmation, I bought two gallons of this perfect paint and hurried home.

My wife was also amazed at how well I had done. Or at least she was amazed as she heard my story of my experience. Then she asked to see the color card. Proudly I produced it. Without a word, she took it to the garage door, held it next to the frame and announced, “Wrong color — it’s the one on the right.”

I started to argue, but it was clear that she was right. Minutes later I was standing back at the counter watching the young clerk mix the new paint. “You know,” he said, “you shouldn’t have bought two gallons without taking that color card home.”

The fact that he was right didn’t endear him to me at that moment. But he was right.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how long you study a particular problem, you simply can’t get the best solution until you try it in its true light. Even when others affirm you and tell you that you have the right answer, nothing is certain until you have it in place and you can see how it fares.

Yet, many of us forge ahead with the obvious. Obvious to us that we have found the solution. Obvious to others we haven’t.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to slow down a bit. Ask those around me for their perspectives. And always take a color card home.

Open Mind, Dark Pit

I’m studying this week. Not my usual book readings and journaling. I’m studying in an “immersion” week. Intensive sessions. Homework at night. A diversity of classmates.

The subject matter is fascinating. Theories from the sciences reinforce things we believed but never really knew. Emerging research adds to the weight. This particular line of thinking has been articulated in some form or fashion for half a century. Its handlers continue to gently unfold it. Showing too much, too soon would be too troublesome they say.

My professor is a man of God. He has very much reconciled the concepts to his personal journey. In fact, much about the teaching seems to lift us to a place where every one of us walks a closer walk with God.

Yet, the projections of where this takes us is frightening. According to the theory, humans are emerging into a state of being where we will end our belief in God. We can already point to the myriad of ways that mankind has pulled away from the Creator. This one is akin to those. It seems that we, as a people, will think our way past God. Our intellect will be so great, that we will leave Him and all “other superstitions” behind.

I take solace in the fact that mere mortals have tried to muscle around God before. And we never quite get there. True, less people go to church than once did. The reason we are told is that church is for the unenlightened and the less developed. As the world touches on enlightenment and development, however, the problems and the solutions seem no less dark or attainable.

I’m uncomfortable studying such things. But I know that God does give us everything for our good. Often the view from the edge of the cliff is the most beautiful and revealing. It’s danger is evident.

The greatest danger, however, is not climbing the mountains and not staring down into that dark pit. For without the pit, we cannot grasp the wonder of the mountaintop.

I’ll continue to study and think – and perhaps gain a little of that enlightenment. As I look down into that pit and try to penetrate that darkness, I think I’ll just slip my hand in God’s. Just in case.

A Moment of Christmas

We were expecting things to be different this year. Changes in the family have made us wary of almost every occasion.

So it was with no small amount of dread that I awaited the traditional opening of gifts. Certainly, I thought, things just won’t be the same. For one thing, it was coming a day late. And then there was the element of missing people. A few would not be with us. And then there was the fact that the economic downturn would be an obstacle for all that gathered.

But the magic moment of Christmas emerged. The gifts, some modest and some more extravagant, were a side note to the beautiful thoughts and love poured into their selection. After this long-awaited festival of sharing, I chided myself on my earlier anxiety. After all, wasn’t the greatest present in the world delivered in a small family gathering in a stable during tough economic times and horrific political and social stress?

So, while I was still thinking that perhaps Christmas would be unrecognizable this year, I received the greatest present of them all. The moment of Christmas began to sink in.

“Emmanuel” does mean “God with us.” And He is.