by Katie Wanek, support crew missionary
When I was 14, I got a weekend job at a dining and banquet hall called Eddie Whipps. Ten years later, I am still working there on the side. This is not about me or the waitressing job itself. It is, however, about something I have witnessed time and time again throughout the years. It is about the kindness and goodness of people that I have seen over and over. It is about seeing people who have demonstrated how to respect and cherish all lives, offering an invitation to live out prolife values in ordinary and small ways.
Most restaurants have regulars. Regulars are those customers that are there every single week. Eddie Whipps is no different. One regular, named Doug for the sake of this story, comes in for the fish fry every Friday and the chicken dinner every Sunday and has been doing so for years. Doug is an elderly man who comes in alone every week. Doug sits quietly at his table, usually looking down or staring off into the distance as he waits for his order to be taken, for his food to come, and even long after he is done eating.
Looking at Doug, it is usually easy to see the loneliness in his eyes and the apparent longing for acknowledgement, interaction, and conversation. While I always enjoy seeing him, every time I do, it almost breaks my heart. However, in recent years and more often than not, my heart has been warmed by seeing other customers value and appreciate Doug.
On a regular basis, other customers will ask for Doug’s bill so they can pay for his meal. Sometimes it’s another regular customer, but often it is someone who does not know him, who wants to cover his bill. The smile that spreads across Doug’s face whenever he is told by the waitress that his bill has been paid is priceless.
Aside from people wanting to pay his bill, couples or groups often invite Doug to join them at their tables to eat or they take a seat with him at his table. Seeing this never gets old. Doug smiles, laughs, and talks excitedly when he is enjoying his dinner with others. To the other customers, these are small gestures. Paying for a meal and sitting with someone are likely no big deal. But to Doug, these small actions seem grand, as they are filled with love. They are signs that let him know he is seen, valued, and cherished. Small and simple gestures such as these are things we can all do.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This popular quote attributed to Saint (Mother) Teresa sums up what I believe could change the world. If we all sought to do small things with great love, we could transform the world and renew the Culture of Life. What if we truly saw every life as the gift that it is? What if we looked into the eyes of every person, young and old, and saw them how God sees them?
We live in a world that wants to discard the lives of those who are weak and vulnerable: the unborn, the elderly, the ill, just to name a few. As people who are prolife , we are called to affirm the lives of everyone we encounter. Whether it’s paying for someone’s meal or inviting someone who is alone to sit with us, these are ways that we can value life. As you go through your days, keep your eyes open to opportunities to value life. You may not be called to do big things, but God is calling us all to do small things. It is in these small things that we have the chance to love greatly.