On a May morning, days before Mother's Day, I arrived at my favorite Starbucks in all the world, the drive-through on Gus Young Lane, Edina, stressed and distracted. I was in big trouble.
I had raced down Highway 100, from the lab at Park Nicollet Clinic where I had managed to get my quite important blood test. I should have known there would be angels along the way when I was called in by a sweet young Somali woman, who smiled at me and showed me to her blood station chair, saying, "You are my guest today." She gave me her name and asked mine. Seeing me struggling to unbutton my shirt cuff, she said, "Here, I'll do that," and minutes later buttoned it up again.
I needed that, for I had realized I had left home, in our senior residence in a flurry of hurry, leaving both my wallet and cell phone behind.
"What was I to do?" was all I could think of. I had agreed to meet at 10:30 Laury my assistant and friend of many years in our reconciliation work in Africa and Minnesota.
It was 10:15 as I left the clinic. I was on track. I would not be late. But, I had no money, no credit card, no license. Starbucks was to be my interlude for our exchange of letters and important papers, and then early lunch across the street with a Rotary friend and encourager, a publisher of business magazines in New York and Minnesota.
Though he had invited me, I had wanted to host him. Now, I realized I had no means to do that. Worse, I had no way to pay for coffee for either Laury or me.
I entered Starbucks with nothing but stress etched across my face. Suddenly, I was greeted by name from baristas behind the counter. All friends of mine.
Without my saying a word, before I knew it, there was Sandy, under her working baseball cap, now on my side of the counter, saying, "Arthur, I am buying your coffee." She turned to the cash register saying, "a solo macchiato for Arthur." Her smart phone was already in hand to pay for it!
"Oh Sandy," I said, "Is there a phone here I could use to call my wife for help?" "Of course there is," she said, "Use mine. Here." I perched on a stool by the wall and tried to reach Molly, unsuccessfully.
But, there again was Sandy saying, "Here are my two friends. We're moving so you can have your favorite seat in the back." We shook hands all around. Doors opening. I could hardly believe it.
Laury comes. We did our quick business. "You know, Arthur," she said, "you could cross the street early to the restaurant, and make arrangements before Burt arrives, for you to cover your lunch bill and pay tomorrow. You're a good customer, whom they know. They would do it."
Good idea, I thought, I'll try it.
But, in the parking lot I could see my friend was already there, just ahead of me, going in.
Just inside, we spied each other, embraced, and began the reunion of old friends which he had initiated a week or two before.
Stories were exchanged. Thanks given for friendship. All would be well. Clearly, he was hosting me. Who pays would be no issue. We lapsed into an hour or so of brotherly conversation by two 88-year-old guys who loved each other, and talked on about life, old age, things that change, getting along with aches and pains. The world, and ourselves in it.
As our order came, I said, "Burt, you know I pray for people. Could I pray for us?" Suddenly from him: "Of course you can. You've always meant a lot to me." We hold on to each other in prayer. Then ate and talked. All was well. Angels had come. My day was in Other Hands.
Amazing. The sweet technician at the lab. Welcoming me, helping me. And, at the heart of it, Sandy at Starbucks, my friend, caring for me.
It was not the first time. I should have known. Everything turned around. Everything worked out. God came. In these beautiful servants of His.
He's helping me learn, while there's still time.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES