A few years ago, my friend, Bill, was diagnosed with high blood pressure that was causing mini-strokes in his system. Today, he frequents a community coffee shop in his neighborhood almost every day. He sits in the same spot – a place with a straight back that overlooks the entrance, the counter and the largest area of the shop. As people come in – they greet him and he them, by name.
A young boy of about 4, Alex, sits next to his dad and draws a picture as his dad writes emails. When the picture is done, Alex hops down and brings the picture to show Bill his “monster truck.” It has a smiling face and big wheels.
A recent immigrant from Israel is teaching his daughter, Anna, a card game – and math as she counts and adds the score. Anna brings the score sheet over to Bill to talk about her lead in the game and the fact that she can’t hit 100 or 200 exactly or she has to take points away.
A woman stops by the table and greets Bill. She wants to know what he is reading and shares with him what she is reading. As we briefly converse, she shares that Bill reads interesting books which broaden her when she reads them. Turns out her husband and Bill are a lot alike – they both obsess over organization. Today, she is reading about organization and Bill is trying to grasp how scientists view time and space. I suspect they’ll trade books when they finish the book each one is reading.
Why these short vignettes about my friend, Bill? Well, last week, my wife and I grabbed some couple time that included visiting Bill and his wife. Bill is a government employee who received an unexpected (and unpaid) week off. As part of that week, we kept to his morning routine – we started the day at the coffee shop together.
One morning Bill shared a story with me. Before I got there, a man Bill didn’t know by name, but knew as a fellow patron, asked Bill, “Why are you here?” Bill’s response. “Because it’s good for my soul and my health.” Turns out that Bill’s blood pressure is down and his stress is reduced by his morning stop at the coffee shop. The children and parents remind him there is hope. The interesting people remind him of God’s creative diversity. Sitting quietly and viewing life reminds him of God’s love. All of it works to calm him and his world.
As we begin this year, I wonder what it will take to remind us of hope, God’s creative diversity and of his love for us? Maybe, it’s a daily walk. Maybe, it’s a daily spot like Bill’s. Maybe, it’s totally different. What I know is that finding a spot like that has a lot to do with providing calmness in life and in our world.