This past March, I took the longest solo road trip that I had taken. I drove for seven hours to go to Petticoat Junction Retreat Center to hang out with some other bloggers for the weekend. Because I was driving solo, my trip involved trying to make good time and copious amount of Dr. Pepper.
Because of those copious amounts of Dr. Pepper, I decided to stop at a McDonald’s for lunch after filling up the van. I needed both more Dr. Pepper and to pretty desperately find a bathroom after having already finished a large McDonald’s drink prior to that point of my trip.
In my rush to go to the restroom as soon as I walked in, I hadn’t fully processed through what I saw at the register until I was actually in the bathroom. There had been a religious sister at the register carefully counting out her money to pay for her lunch. I thought, irritated at myself for my extreme need for a restroom, “If only I had thought about it sooner, I would have just walked up to the register and asked to pay for her lunch.”
My chance at that was gone, however. It had been a nice thought, but I still wish that I had thought of it sooner.
After ordering my food to go, I scanned around the restaurant while waiting and saw this Sister eating alone. While I love being generous when I can be, I instantly had knots in my stomach as I decided what I wanted to do next. I took five dollars out of my purse and stuck it in my pocket.
Could I really just walk up to this woman’s table and give her the money? I felt awkward as I walked casually with my drink and bag. I stopped at her table.
“Excuse me, Sister?”
“Yes,” she smiled broadly.
And, with some gusto (I think), I plunked the five dollars down on her table. “I would really love it if you would let me pay for your lunch.”
She was delighted. “Are you eating with someone?” she asked, even though her eyes moved to my to-go bag. “If you aren’t, I would love to have you join me for lunch.”
“I’m traveling and was just going to go, actually.” But, then I paused. “You know what, Sister? I would really love to have lunch with you. Thank you.”
For the next forty minutes, I sat in a southern Indiana McDonalds having the most delightful conversation with this Sister who was based out of the Nashville area. We talked excitedly about the newly named Pope Francis (as this was just the day after that exciting day).
We discussed my family, my children, and our conversion process, as well as the work that they do at her parish, the reasons for her traveling, and more. When it was finally time to go, we got a funny look from a man nearby (who had been hearing us gab like old friends) after we hugged and then told each other that it was so nice to have met each other.
There were so many things that I could have done differently that day. I could have wimped out on walking over to give her the money, and I could have also decided that my drive was too long to sit and have lunch. However, I’m thankful to be able to say that I got to add that extra 40 minutes to my trip. It was truly a gift. I can only hope that she was happy to have added that extra time to her trip too.