Remember that Anne Lamott story where she talks about how God broke her car, so she could be with a dying friend at the right time? I was thinking about that today in the hospital cafeteria.
I went to visit a friend of a parishioner, but when I got there it wasn’t a good time and she asked me to come back in half an hour. It being the noon hour, I went for lunch in the cafeteria. It being the Year of My 20th High School Reunion (yes, I AM still talking about that - it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to), I went to the salad bar. It being me of the large anxious appetite, I also picked up one of those little boxes of pre-made sushi you can get anywhere on the west coast.
I ate the salad. I opened the sushi and it was just not right. I don’t know much about sushi, but I do know that if it looks both wilty and stiff simultaneously, you should not eat it, so I didn’t. I took my empty plate to the dishwasher’s window and thought about throwing the sushi away, but it DID cost five dollars and I AM trying to be a better steward of our family’s resources, so I wound all the back to the other side of the cafeteria and presented it bravely back to the cashier for a refund.
The cashier had to call a manager – thankfully wilty, stiff sushi is not an everyday occurrence. Then, behind me, I heard someone call my name. I’m not actually named Juniper, you know, and I just happen to have an extremely common name, a name which I often hear shouted out in public places, but this time it actually was for me.
Turned around to see a woman I’d met months before at a retreat – in fact, she had been a kind and discerning leader of a small group I sort of grudgingly attended. I was glad to see her, but surprised, since she lives in a city a couple of hours away. But was here to be with her partner, having surgery today. So we sat down over food and talked for a while. It’s a tender time, a time of worry and hope, both confidence and despair were spoken. Our conversation was short, but it was such a gift, a reminder of the power in faith and community and love.
And if I hadn’t had to go back to the cashier, I would have been out the door on the opposite end of the cafeteria before she arrived. Which is why I’m thanking God today for a box of bad sushi.