Table for Two
He sits by himself at a table for two. The uniformed waiter appears at his side.
“Would you like to go ahead and order, sir?” The man has, after all, been waiting since seven o’clock—almost half an hour.
“No thank you,” the man says with a smile. “I’ll wait for her a while longer. How about some more coffee?”
The man sits, his deep brown eyes gazing straight through the flowered centre piece. He fingers his napkin, allowing the sounds of light chatter, tinkling silverware, and mellow music to fill his mind. Dressed in a sport coat and tie with his dark brown hair neatly combed, he projects a clean-cut and welcoming image. You get the sense that he wants his companion to feel important, respected, loved. Yet he’s not so formal as to make one uncomfortable. Having taken every precaution to make others feel at ease with him, still, he sits alone. The waiter returns to fill the man’s coffee cup.
“Is there anything else I can get for you, sir?”
“No, thank you.” The waiter remains standing at the table. Something tugs at his curiosity.
“I don’t mean to pry, but…” His voice trails off. This line of conversation could jeopardize his tip, if not his job.
“Go ahead,” the man encourages. His voice is strong, yet sensitive, inviting conversation.
“Why do you bother waiting for her?” the waiter finally asks. This man has been at the restaurant other evenings, always alone, always patient.
“Because she needs me.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, sir, no offense sir, but assuming that she needs you, she sure isn’t acting much like it. She’s stood you up three times just this week!”
The man winces, and looks down. “Yes, I know.”
“Then why do you still come here and wait?”
“Cassie said she’d be here.”
“She’s said that before,” the waiter protests. “I wouldn’t put up with it. Why do you?”
Now the man looks up at the waiter with a smile. “Because I love her.”
The waiter walks away, wondering how one could love a girl who stands him up three times a week. The man must be crazy, he decides. From across the room he turns to look again at the man, who is pouring cream into his coffee cup. He twirls his spoon between his fingers a few times before stirring sweetener into his cup. After staring for a moment into the liquid, the man brings the cup to his mouth and sips, silently watching those around him. He doesn’t look crazy, the waiter admits. Maybe the girl has extraordinary qualities. Or maybe the man’s love is stronger than most. Pulling himself out of his musings, he moves to take an order from a party of five.
Setting down his coffee cup, the man recalls the many things he wanted to talk over with Cassie. But really he was mostly looking forward to hearing her voice telling him about her day—her triumphs, her defeats…anything. Yes, she’s stood him up before, but he still can’t get used to it. Each time, it hurts. He’s looked forward to this evening all day. He’s tried so many times to show Cassie how much he loves her. He’d just like to know that she cares for him, too. He sips sporadically at the coffee. He hopes Cassie may yet arrive.
The clock says nine-thirty when the waiter returns to the man’s table—still with one empty chair.
“Anything I can get for you?”
“No, I think that will be all for tonight. May I have the bill, please?”
“Yes, sir.” When the waiter leaves, the man picks up the check. He pulls out his wallet and signs. He has enough money to have given Cassie a feast. But he takes out only enough to pay for his five cups of coffee and the tip. Why do you do this, Cassie, his mind cries as he gets up from the table.
“Good-bye,” the waiter says, as the man walks towards the door.
“Good night. Thank you for your service.”
“You’re welcome, sir,” says the waiter softly, for he sees the hurt in the man’s eyes that his smile doesn’t hide. The man passes a laughing young couple on his way out, and his eyes glisten as he thinks of the good time he and Cassie could have had. He stops at the front and makes reservations for tomorrow. Maybe Cassie will be able to make it, he thinks.
“Seven o-clock tomorrow for a party of two?” the hostess confirms.
“That’s right,” the man replies.
“Do you think she’ll come?” asks the hostess inquires tentatively. She doesn’t mean to be rude, but she has watched the man many times alone at his table for two.
“Someday, yes. And I will be there waiting for her.” The man buttons his overcoat and walks out of the restaurant, alone. His shoulders are hunched, but through the windows the hostess can only guess whether they are hunched against the wind or against the man’s hurt.
About the time the man steers his car out of the restaurant’s parking lot, Cassie falls into her bed. Tired after an evening out with friends, she reaches toward her night stand to set the alarm.
“Oh, shoot,” she says aloud when she sees the note she had scribbled to herself the previous night. “Seven o’clock p.m….and what’d I write here?…oh, yeah, Spend some time in prayer. Well, I’ll do it tomorrow night for sure.”
Besides, she told herself, she needed tonight with her friends—and now she needs her sleep. Tomorrow night will be fine. Jesus will forgive her. She’s sure he doesn’t mind.
The most important part of daily devotions is showing up. It doesn’t matter what you say or do. Just take time every day to spend a little time with the One who loves you and waits patiently for you to come. He wants to tell you how much he loves you.
- Monday, 25 Oct 2021Guide and govern your Church, O Lord, that we may walk warily in times of quiet and boldly in times of danger; through Christ our Lord. Amen.Franciscan Breviary (13th century)Holy God, our experience of pandemic and lockdown has made us rethink the meaning of place. So often we have focused on buildings and how we […]
- Monday, 25 Oct 2021