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Pancakes and Faith

I was sitting at my favorite diner with my favorite curly-haired eight-year-old answering questions about faith and pancakes.  “How do you know when God is speaking to you?  Does He sort of knock softly on your head with an idea?”

Pancakes are much easier to navigate. I know pancakes. I can see their buttery, maple goodness right in front of me. God is rather invisible and even more invisible to an eight year old.

We continued to eat our coffee shop breakfast. I asked Tatiana to close her eyes and listen. “What do you hear besides the background music? Do you hear anything else?” She mentioned clanging forks, plates picked up and put down, diner chatter, people walking by on their phones, kids crying in that very hungry pre-breakfast way and then she looked to the table across from us. There was a woman silently eating her breakfast for one. She had pancakes, too, and hash browns like Tatiana. I noticed they weren’t drenched in ketchup though. The woman would take a sip of her coffee then quietly reach for her folded tight napkin, wipe her mouth and then the edge of the cup to remove the little lipstick she wore.

Tatiana kept staring the way you’re not supposed to stare but do when you’re eight. And then I heard a knock softly on my head, well, and my heart. I asked the server to discreetly bring me the woman’s check. Without our knowing, the server knelt down to the woman and told her the table next had paid her bill.

Then the woman, nearly 90-year-old woman, was standing next to us. She had tears pouring down her face and into well-earned wrinkles.Still the folded napkin was tight in her hand. I wonder if she would tuck it in the band of her watch like my grandmother did. She thanked us and asked Tatiana her name then reached for my arm and said, “My husband died in September and I’ve been afraid to leave the house. This was my first time outside.”

I knew the knock on my head with an idea was for a reason. There are many times I could reach out and pay a bill for someone. We all could. Hell, I wouldn’t mind someone doing that for me one day. Still, this wasn’t about pity or a grand gesture. It was an idea, on a heart, birthed from the wondering mind of a little girl asking about pancakes and faith.

I held the woman’s arm and said, “You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Don’t stay inside. Come out often and hopefully we’ll see you here again soon.”

The big gestures are good. They are big. They draw attention. They are needed. I’m wondering though if a small gesture, a $9.52 gesture, might matter just as much.

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