The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 16, 2010.
A friend and I went to a nearby restaurant last week for a breakfast meeting to discuss some plans and projects we want to get started on. She and I have very similar values and beliefs, but very different skills and talents. We complement each other well, and have already worked on several projects together.
We had a lot to talk about and a lot of catching up to do, in both our personal and our professional lives. It was one of those conversations in which we had to keep making notes about other things that came up, so we could keep track of things we wanted or needed to talk about later.
At one point, my friend was trying to explain a complex and difficult issue, but we kept getting distracted by a group of women at a nearby table. They appeared to be having a holiday get-together, and were obviously having a wonderful time. We tried – unsuccessfully – to ignore the noise. I glanced around and noticed that other people seemed disturbed as well, especially when one of the women stood up to emphasize a story she was telling the others, which got them laughing even more.
Clearly, we weren’t going to get anything else done without some sort of “intervention,” so I went over to their table. Before saying anything, I knelt down and got eye-level with them, the way waiters and waitresses do at some casual restaurants. I didn’t do this intentionally, it was just instinctive.
“I love seeing people having such a good time,” I told them. “In fact, there’s a part of me that wants to come over and join you.”
Before I had a chance to say another word, the two women on either side of me started scooting their chairs over.
“Come on in,” they said, and I could tell they meant it.
“Thanks, but no,” I told them. “You see, my friend and I are in the middle of a pretty serious discussion, but we’re having trouble hearing each other and concentrating on what we’re saying. I don’t want you to turn down your enthusiasm, but we’d appreciate it if you could turn down the volume a bit.”
They were apologetic, accommodating, and gracious. And then something magical happened.
“Can we pray for you?” one of them asked. “We’re actually a moms’ prayer group.”
I glanced over at my friend, who heard the exchange and immediately got up to join us. She’s written a book about prayer, which I helped edit. So we suddenly had a common bond with these women. We spent only a few minutes talking with them, but it was long enough for them to ask our names so they could pray for us personally, and long enough for my friend to run out to her car to get one of her books for the group. Then we returned to our booth and finished our discussion, while they continued their celebration – just as joyfully, but a little more quietly than before.
I’m still smiling as I think about what happened that morning, especially because one of the things that bothers me most these days is the disrespect and the lack of basic courtesy that is so prevalent in our society, from public figures who attack each other verbally and physically to everyday people who are rude and insulting. Too many people seem unaware that they can disagree without being disagreeable. Too many more don’t seem to care.
So I especially appreciated seeing and being part of a situation that started out as slightly annoying, and ended up as an enjoyable encounter – with some prayers for me added in on top of it. All from a simple and courteous request, and an immediate and understanding response.
I’ve said some prayers for these ladies, too, even though I don’t remember all of their names. And also for my friend, and for the success of the projects we’re going to be working on together. We’re already off to a great start. And I can’t wait till our next meeting.
© Betty Liedtke, 2010