Breakfast with COTW: Coffee and Connection
Updated: Mar 2
Ray likes his coffee black. Ben takes extra cream and two Sweet n’ Lows. But Nathan basically wants a little coffee with his cream and sugar. So we make up a mug that is half cream/half coffee and just bring the sugar pourer to his table.
Among the many blessings of our new breakfast program at First Parish Church in Waltham, is the intimacy that unexpectedly developed from serving the same group of about 25 folks each day this winter. It’s not like we didn’t know each other before the pandemic took away our regular, indoor venues to visit. And to be honest, it’s been decades since I hung up the apron strings and stopped waitressing. So when we first envisioned this plan of we chaplains joining volunteers to serve and clean up breakfast, something in me said: “For this I went to seminary?”
But I hadn’t predicted the added intimacy, the joy, the love that gets exchanged when you welcome a guest to start their breakfast with the hot beverage of their choice…which you have memorized…. like any good diner waitress!
Just yesterday, the door opened to let a blast of 12-degree air and all six feet two inches of Kevin into the dining room. Jim, a volunteer at the door, greeted him, took his temperature, and handed him a fresh mask. All of which gave me time to pour a steaming cup of Kevin’s English Breakfast tea (black). I grabbed an orange juice and walked towards his table as he wiggled out of his backpack. “Oh Becky, you spoil me!” said Kevin with delight, his long arms stretched out like eagles’ wings.
What does it mean to “spoil” a person experiencing poverty and homelessness? A person who might have 45 cents in their pocket, who has lost touch with all friends and family, who, come March, will be expected to survive this pandemic outside all day again. What Kevin and others have taught us is that it means to treat each person as an individual who is more than a series of losses. It means to honor them with choice and abundance. It means to receive as well as to serve. And that my friends, is a spiritual thing, which I did in fact begin to understand in seminary.
We are grateful to First Parish, and to you our friends and donors for this opportunity.
May all people be so “spoiled.”
Rev. Rebecca Sheble-Hall