HARRY [SAID]: “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Now this is a classy place.’ So I say, ‘Well, okay, is there somewhere we could sit and have a glass of wine? You see, today’s our 40th wedding anniversary, and we’ve come to celebrate.’
“And just about then, the owner of the restaurant walks by, overhears us, and says, ‘You two been married for 40 years?’
“‘ Sure have,’ I say.
“‘Get outta here, 40 years today?’
‘Yes sir, and ready to do 40 more.’
“‘Well, come on in,’ he says. He takes off our coats, and in we go.
“Man, you should have seen this place. It was like walking into paradise. All the tables had white cloths and crystal wine glasses and 4 or 5 forks and spoons lined up next the china. … They even had a sculpture of ice. I’m telling you, this place was classy. The owner, he takes us to this big round table by the window — the best seats in the house — helps us into our chairs, and says he’ll be right back. Well, me and the missus are still figuring out what all the forks are for when he comes back with the guy in the tuxedo, a bottle of champagne, and 4 glasses.
“‘This is on the house,’ the owner says. ‘We’re going to have a toast. Tonight, we celebrate 40 years of wedded bliss.’ Well, … one of the waiters walks by. ‘What’s going on?’ he asks. ‘We aren’t even open yet.’
“The owner says, ‘These two have been married for 40 years.’
“‘Get outta here,’ the waiter replies. ‘Really?’
“‘Yeah,’ the owner says, ‘go get yourself a glass.’ He runs off and a waitress walks by.
“‘What’s going on? We aren’t even open yet.”<“‘These two have been married for 40 years.”
“‘Get outta here, really?’
“‘Yeah, go get yourself a glass.’ Then a busboy comes, a few more waitresses, and more waiters too with more glasses and more champagne until there’s so much commotion going on, the cooks hear us way back in the kitchen. This guy with a chef’s hat leans out the door and hollers, ‘What’s going on out there? We’re not even open yet.’
“‘These two have been married for 40 years,’ everyone replies.
“‘Get outta here, really?’
“‘Yeah, go get yourself a glass. Get the other cooks. Get everyone who’s around. We’re celebrating 40 years of wedded bliss, and everybody’s part of the toast,’ the owner says.
“The next thing you know, there’s about 30 people standing around our table, some of them wearing tuxedos, some of them in jeans and aprons, all of them with a glass in the air as happy for us as if we were family. I tell you what, that was one classy place.”
In that moment of telling his story, Harry had come alive, radiant in this memory when strangers gathered around a table to celebrate love and marriage. All I could think to say was something pretty silly. “Gee, Harry, those are the moments that really warm your heart, aren’t they?”
He paused for a bit, still recalling the sacred waters of that toast. Then he looked up at me and said, “Warm your heart? No. Those are the moments that keep me alive.” Then after a few moments, he spoke again. “Tell me something,” he said. “You’re a seminary student. Do you think heaven will be like that?”
This time I knew just what to say. “Harry,” I said, “I think heaven is going to be exactly like that.”
– Compassion in Practice
From pages 56-58 of Compassion in Practice: The Way of Jesus by Frank Rogers Jr. Copyright © 2016 by Frank Rogers Jr. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
How would you describe heaven? Share your thoughts.
1:11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:11, NRSV
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