Relay Station

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The “Cafe’ ” looked like 1950’s America. I should have known right then and there it was a relay station…ya know?  One of those places God has you stop in a while at different times in your life. You know what I mean don’t ya? BIRTH. EARTH. DEATH. HELL. HEAVEN…
Well anyway, back to the Cafe’. The splintered wooden sign above the door just read, Cafe’. That’s it… just one word on a green milk paint weathered sign with red letters. The old screen door looked freshly painted and was red too and right as you walk in there is a big chip board sign that said “Sweet Ice Tea 25¢…
Well, as it happens I was so bone weary and July Delta hot that I had to go in and get some sweet iced tea for a quarter no less!
Behind the counter stood the most beautiful charcoal skinned lady I have ever seen! Her skin was radiant like a diamond. Her chestnut-brown eyes were perfectly round and so clear they twirled like starlight from far away. Yep, I thought to myself…Relay station. The Lady looked up at me and smiled. She said all the usual stuff like “welcome, take a seat, etc…but then she called me “Darlin” and said “let me get you a big old glass of sweet ice tea!”
The Lady’s  melodic voice sounded like a song I had known all my life so what could I do but “take a seat.” The booths had that fake leather vinyl and a few of the seats were cracked with age. I noticed how clean they were. The formica table tops had once been white were now yellowed with age but the whole Cafe’ was tidy and clean the way any eatery should be…
Yep, I thought to myself again , “this is a relay station.”
Suddenly I became aware that the Lady was speaking to someone else although I didn’t see another soul in the place. She said, “You know you better get outta my Cafe’!!!. You know good and well you can’t be here! Now you get on outta here right now!”
I didn’t want to see who was getting such a dressing down so I just sat at my booth and looked down at my hands. I never saw or heard anyone else coming or going so I thought maybe the Lady was a little touched in the head, ya know?
I just sat there enjoying the coolness of the big attic fan whirring above me. I love the hum of an attic fan. It was blowing just enough to cool me about my head and shoulders but not so cold like some places do so that your teeth are chattering the whole time you’re trying to eat…
The Lady brought me a large, large glass of sweet ice tea and grinned at me with one of those “deep” kind of smiles. You know the kind of smile I mean? The kind of smile that shows the little lines and miles a person has travelled? Anyway, she had a comforting smile and I thanked her for the tea…
As the Lady walked back behind the counter we enjoyed the pleasure of silence. After a while I was lost in thought but I could hear the faint scraping of a spatula on a grill, with its own familiar melody. I began to feel a little stiff and sleepy so I sat up straight and started looking around the Cafe’. That is when I noticed all the photographs above
each booth and covering most of the wall space.
One photo was a WWII veteran and his beautiful chocolate skinned teenage bride. I recognized those big brown eyes as the Lady’s eyes. Boy she was a beauty! In another photo there were the same young couple with a handful of children. There were multiple shots of families with teenagers and old people smiling at the camera. There was even one or two pictures of a gathering of folks at a cemetery or a wedding…I began to feel so tired again and finally just put my head down on the old cool table top…
I was gently awakened by the awareness that the Lady was sitting across from me at my booth. She gazed at the photograph above my head of herself as a bride then she said, “something children don’t know, at least most children don’t, is that we are each strangers to our parents pain and woes. Strangers to their wounds and broken dreams. We rarely, if ever see their scars yet we are wholly formed by them. Losses and dreams they knew before we were born lay behind them like mountains they climbed over and when they got to the other side they just kept on moving forward and held on tight to the meaning of life. The meaning of it all is just this…move forward no matter what and just maybe the next child will have less wounds, less scars, and less broken dreams and the next generation will have more and more love and meaning and love and meaning and it just keeps us going for a reason, for the meaning that perhaps we cannot see so clearly and that is that we, each of us, are on the same road map. It is the curse and the beauty of humanity. We make it over that next hurdle.” she ended in a whisper. Then she looked into my eyes and that melodic voice said, “it is all just to wonderful to miss!”
As quick as a blink I had to cover both my eyes because a canopy of piercing white light began to rain down all over my head and shoulders and then like a shot out of a cannon there was an arc of shimmer silver light all over the Cafe’. The Lady touched my hand and I asked her what her name was and she said, “Hope.”

The next instant all was quiet and the Cafe’ was cool and serene again. The Lady was behind the counter working and humming that melody again. I looked around and everything in the Cafe’ was just like it was before. I took a last swig of my tea and lay some money on the table. As I headed toward the old screen door I turned to the Lady and asked, “Hope, who was that in here earlier that you told to leave?” She turned her head briefly and grinned and said, “oh, that old demon’s name is Despair. He tries to come into my Cafe’ with lots of folks traveling through but he knows he can’t stay where Hope is.”

I smiled and stepped through the screen door. I smiled in my heart and felt joy…do you know that kind of smile? The kind of smile that shows the lines and miles of a person’s journey. Then I looked back over my shoulder to see the Cafe’ once more and it was gone…
“Yep, just like I told y’all before, a relay station…

2 thoughts on “Relay Station

  1. “something children don’t know, at least most children don’t, is that we are each strangers to our parents pain and woes. Strangers to their wounds and broken dreams. We rarely, if ever see their scars yet we are wholly formed by them. Losses and dreams they knew before we were born lay behind them like mountains they climbed over and when they got to the other side they just kept on moving forward and held on tight to the meaning of life.”

    Many of my conversations with people I am trying to help is to help them identify what (and who) has formed them, what parts of their forming were traumatic and still need healing, and how the Spirit is forming them now into the image of Christ. Committing to the process, whatever form it needs to take, is important, for the process of healing and formation are a lifetime long. “Moving forward and holding on tight…” is certainly a needed posture.

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