I didn’t want to open the door.
I stood with my hand on the door handle, thumb on the latch, and I struggled to push down.
I had visited Lystra Tea Company for several months. I was a regular, I thought. It felt like home. And then my schedule changed. I got wrapped up in projects. I was talking a lot. Too much maybe. And I stopping taking the time to stop and visit with Tim.
I have no idea how long I stood there, hand on the door, mind everywhere else.
Then the door opened.
“May I help you?” Tim said.
If you’ve conversed with me, you know that it takes time for me to pull my thoughts back into the present.
“May I help you?” Tim said again.
It was an odd question for a barista to ask. “What can I start for you?” is more common. “How can I help you?” or “What would you like?” are other appropriate requests to initiate the ordering process.
But “May I help you?” It was as if he was asking permission to serve me, permission to offer the kind of direction and teaching and counsel that he gave me months ago.
It was unsettling. I had been prepared for shaming, maybe: “Where have you been? We’ve not seen you here for awhile? Been wasting time elsewhere?” That’s probably because I felt like I’d failed at some spiritual pursuit, like not spending time reading Paul’s letters to Timothy or something. I was waiting to be attacked, criticized. Instead, here was the owner at the door asking permission to welcome me in, offering to help.
I almost cried. Or maybe I did.
Tim held the door open with his foot, put his hand on my shoulder, and brought me in. He pointed to a table and moved behind the counter.
“Medium bold, right?” he said.
He put the mug in front of me and sat down.
“The Lord be with your spirit,” he said. “Grace be with you.”
It felt like home.