It’s 10:20 in the morning when I look down from my second story window of our terrace house to people walking past, checking the mood of the weather from the clothes they are wearing. Sun illumines leaves on vines cascading from rooftops, framing windows with lime green translucence. I notice jackets instead of coats and flats instead of boots.
Good, it’s warm out. I won’t have to wear my coat.
When I open the door and walk into the street, the clack-clack of my shoes echos on the concrete, breaking up an uncanny stillness in London. Sky is a clean sheet of brilliant cornflower hanging from the heavenlies.
On the corner of the next block a vintage tea room greets me with café tables and chairs lining the sidewalk. Each cushioned seat holds a blanket neatly folded, fringe hanging over the edges. For patrons who long to enjoy the fresh atmosphere of spring sans the chill that lingers from winter.
“I’m meeting someone here,” I inquire the young woman inside, standing behind the counter.
With a twinkle in her eye and a smile spreading out perfectly lined red lips, she says in a lovely British accent, “She’s just beaten you here by a few seconds, she’s downstairs in the loo.”
“We’ve never met in person,” I tell her, “I don’t know what she looks like. Well, actually she knows what I look like because my photo is on my website.”
She tilts her head and eyes dim as they slant. And then I realize how abnormal this sounds, meeting someone at a tea shop whom I’ve never encountered beyond an email exchange or comment box.
But this has become my new normal since moving to London — meeting people who reveal they’ve been following our journey to London through what I write on my blog, Redemptions Beauty and weekly email letters to the Sabbath Society.
Some say meeting strangers is risky. I see it like meeting cousins you’ve only heard about from your Mother.
God handpicks those in your spiritual family while you walk the earth. Some influence us daily and others, a few brief moments. I don’t want to miss out on knowing the people He’s choosing to connect me with by creating borders with reasoning and assumptions.
What if she doesn’t like me as much as my writing?
What if we don’t find common ground and the meeting is awkward?
What if she is needy? Emotionally unhealthy? Too talkative? Too quiet?
What if we don’t share the same beliefs?
All perfectly good questions to ask, unless you are a believer in the sacrament of presence, then those questions become irrelevant.Visible signs of inward grace lose the ability to transform us when we create boundaries with intellect, social prejudice and spiritual hoops to jump through.
In true friendship, practicing the sacrament of presence means we sit equal at the table; nothing else matters except the person staring back at you.
Revelation 3:20 says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” I like to think Jesus finishes my sentences the more we talk to each other.
At a table near boxes of chocolate and confections heaped on glass pedestals, Elaine and I sip tea, wipe crumbs from our chins with paper napkins and talk about the beauty in the winding paths our lives are taking. The only border between us is tea cups and plates.
Before parting, the clack-clack of our shoes on the street creates a rhythm in the crescendo of life buzzing toward the lunch hour, until we rest in front of my house.
She asks how I feel about prayer in public. I tell her I practice it often and she laughs.
Sitting next to each other on the cold stone wall in front of my kitchen window, a woman I’ve only known through email letters blesses our coming to London with words that graft the branches of our lives together.
“By the way, how did you find my blog and the Sabbath Society?” I ask her.
“I have no idea, I can’t remember,” she says. “God just often leads me to people.”
Is it hard for you to initiate new friendships? What is holding you back from taking risks? What is one thing you could do today to break down barriers in practicing the sacrament of presence with someone?