One Wonderful Thing


We Went With Cork Tree. It Was Almost Divine.

Surprise Gifts
Once upon a time, something had to be really big to impress me. Like a friend traveling far to see me. Or an unexpected raise or bonus. Or someone covering my Christmas-Eve shift so I could be home with my family.

Big gestures. That got my attention.

I’m easier now, I think. Take this past Saturday. My husband and I were rolling along, minding our own business, and we chanced to cross paths with a stranger who met us with care, with kindness–with love. 

He took my breath away. So naturally I want to share.

We’d gone away for the weekend. Saturday morning, we drove past all the familiar chain restaurants, determined to eat at a local place. It’s an obsession of mine when we travel. And on this Saturday morning, we didn’t stumble upon a candidate right away. So when we did spot an unfamiliar place with a full parking lot, we zipped right in.

[Of course we later discovered that the restaurant was, after all, part of a chain. But it wasn’t a chain we’d ever heard of before, so I’ll take that. And the instance we visited was the only location in California, so I’ll take that, too.]

So we study the menu and place our order and our competent waiter, Tony, brings us our food. It’s good and we’re hungry and he’s refilling our coffee and Life. Is. Good. Once we’ve eaten our fill and drank all the coffee we can manage, Tony brings our check. Rich pays him. And then I ask Tony a question:

We’re visiting here. Could you tell me–if we wanted to go out for a special dinner tonight, but wanted to skip the chains–where should we go? 

Tony looks at me. Let me think a minute, he says. I’ll be right back. 

We wait, sipping at the last of our coffee. Finally Tony comes back. He hands us a slip of paper. It holds writing in red ink, composed in a feminine hand.

I’m sorry I took so long, Tony says. I asked Jackie for suggestions, too, and then one of the places she thought of we had to look up online because we couldn’t remember if it closes for the summer. Anyway, these three places are good. 

Do you see that? Tony didn’t just toss off the name of some nice place in town (and we were in Palm Springs, where nice places are all over) or shrug and say he didn’t know. He didn’t glance around at the busy Saturday-morning restaurant crowd and duck our question. No.

When I asked Tony to help us, he went out of his way to assist. How honoring is that? How kind? How a-little-bit-like-Jesus, even if restaurant recommendations are hardly a matter of life and death?

People continually amaze me. We live in a world that’s saturated with breathless reports of violence, steeped in endless reminders that people can be brutal.

We live in a world where surfers riot, for pity’s sake. 

And then there’s Tony. I’m grateful for the Tonys of this world.

Lord, let me be more like Tony the next time. 

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)

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