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A Love Story, Part 1

Today’s Reflection

WHEN I WAS a student in spirituality, I met a man who knew how to ground himself in the sacred source of compassion. I was in need of spiritual replenishment, so I paid a visit to the local monastery at the edge of town. It was early when I drove through the gates. Instantly, I entered a world both still and mystical. I drove along the road and parked beside a ’64 Rambler. I found the chapel and entered through the front door. The altar was already set — candles lit, a draped plate of bread, a chalice filled with wine. Weekday Eucharist was about to commence. I stepped into the sanctuary, and that is where I first met Harry.

Harry was an elderly gentleman sitting alone about halfway toward the front. His clothes looked like they had been bought at a thrift store — a tattered tweed jacket, a wrinkled white shirt, a clip-on tie inside a V-neck sweater. Most distinctive, though, was this stranger’s posture. He had turned around and was beaming in my direction. It was as if he knew me, as if he was waiting for me — like he was the host of this party, I was the guest of honor, and he was so glad I had finally arrived.

Having no idea who he was, I simply smiled back, sat on the chapel’s opposite side, and ignored him during Eucharist. When Mass was over, he grabbed my arm, and we chatted as we walked toward our cars. So began our daily ritual.

I learned his name, Harry, and that he was 83 years old and a retired telephone repairman. He and his wife raised two boys on a working-class salary. He was proud of them both — proud that they went to college and both became doctors. Harry lived alone. Some 15 years earlier, his wife had died after 47 years of marriage. …

One spring morning, I asked him a question. “Harry,” I began, “every day I come to Mass, you’re already here. What about the Eucharist is so meaningful that you make it the center of every day?”

Harry cocked his head, leaned forward on his cane, and stared into the distance. “I don’t know,” he mused after a spell. “I guess it just feels right somehow.” And then, almost as if he were changing the subject, he said, “Say, did I ever tell you about my 40th wedding anniversary? Man, was that something else. The missus and me, we’d been married 40 years, and we were busting to do something special. The boys were away at college, so it was just the two of us. We dug out our best clothes from the closet, got all dolled up, and drove an our all the way to the Jersey Shore, looking to find the best restaurant around. No Denny’s for us, no sir. We wanted something classy. And as it turned out, we found something even classier than we knew existed: a restaurant that’s only open for dinner. … Now that’s classy.

“But we didn’t know that at the time. we just drove up in front of this fancy-looking place on the ocean and walked in. There was this man all dressed up in a tuxedo by the door, and he asks if he can help us. I say, ‘Sure, we’ve come here for dinner. We’d like a table for two.’

“He says, ‘That’s fine, the only problem is, it’s a quarter to six, and we’re not open yet.’

“‘You’re kidding,’ I say. ‘You’re a restaurant, right?’

“‘That we are, sir,’ he says. ‘But here, we only serve dinner.’ (to be continued tomorrow)

– Frank Rogers Jr
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.

Today’s Question

How do you think the story will end? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.”

Mark 1:10, NRSV

This Week: Pray for a holy lent. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Valentine (February 14).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • robert moeller February 17, 2018, 4:57 am

    Harry and his wife will have a free dinner since it is their 40th wedding anniversary.

    Thankful for a good day. Prayers for those in pain, may God’s comfort be with you. Hope to hear from those we miss. Thankful for the sharing that continues. Blessings to the entire UR family, may your Lent be holy.

  • robert moeller February 17, 2018, 4:57 am

    Harry and his wife will return at the time given by the man in the tuxedo, have dinner, find the bill is more than they can pay, but because it is their 40th wedding anniversary, they will have a free meal.

    Thankful for a quiet day at home, good meals, and progress on my model.
    Prayers for all in pain of any kind, those we miss, a holy lent, I’m doing a lot of advocating to help people and the earth

  • Julie February 17, 2018, 8:10 am

    I like your ending, Robert. But I would change it to occur prior to the opening so that they would have the restaurant all to themselves and they would be treated as royalty by the staff.
    Robert, what does your advocacy entail? How is Isis.
    Prayers, blessings and thanks to all the UR family who visit this lovely, warm oasis among the cold world
    Every time the sun rises, a new hope begins, Jack (character from book “Wonder”)

  • Connie February 17, 2018, 8:53 am

    Let’s see….I think they will dine alone, but with all the trimmings….music, dances, flowers, delicious dinner (yes, I believe courstesy of the restaurant). Then at dinner hour the place begins to buzz and the “coach turns into a pumpkin”. I believe in fairy tales.

  • Shirley Jagelski February 17, 2018, 10:12 am

    Since this is from Daily reflections, I’m thinking some kind of God event. More important than a free meal on their anniversary. Also the story came after the question of why mass is so important…. I can’t imagine what it might be but God does amazing things in so many ways to gently mold us into Christ’s likeness. Something affected Harry very deeply that he would associate the story with question and remember it 22 years later. I can hardly wait for tomorrow to hear what happened. Maybe, since they didn’t have a reservation they went and got fast food and shared it with a homeless person on the beach. Too many possibilities.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling February 17, 2018, 5:37 pm

    Harry and his wife were given the VIP room as it was their 40th wedding anniversary and served the best dishes. They enjoyed themselves so much and it was a memorable day for both of them. They praised God for His blessings and were eternally grateful to God for all that He has done in their lives.

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