We belong to each other


I was nearly finished with my latte when he sat down on the couch across from me. He had a travel mug in his hand and his back pocket was held together with gorilla tape. He made no motion to order anything, but neither did anyone tell him he had to.

We sat there across from each other in silence while I sipped and read and he fidgeted and squirmed. After some time, I held up my empty glass and invited him to have a drink with me. Not because he was tall; he wasn’t. But because he looked so uncomfortable.

The Bible tells us to comfort others with the same comfort that we have been comforted. I was entirely comfortable and wanted the same for him. I don’t know that it was necessarily the coffee that made me so comfortable, but it couldn’t hurt.

“Have a drink with me,” I said and stood. He smiled his clear blue eyes at me and stood too.

I ordered another latte, and the barista gave me the total. “He’s with me,” I said, stepping aside so he could order. “Iced tea,” he said.

“And a sandwich,” I said, “with bacon.” I paid and we returned to our seats across from each other.

We sat in silence until our food and drinks came out. The sandwich artist put the BLT in front of me, but I pushed it across the coffee table to him.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

“You looked hungry,” I said, which wasn’t necessarily true but seemed more polite than saying he looked uncomfortable and I thought bacon would help. He smiled again with his eyes.

His phone rang and he answered it between bites. “I’m having lunch with a friend,” he said before having a brief chat and then hanging up. He meant me; I was his friend.

“What happened?” I asked, enjoying my drink and his growing comfortability.

“What do you mean?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I replied, and I didn’t. It just felt like the question that wanted to be asked.

He didn’t skip a beat. Immediately he started telling me about his dad. Next he talked about his truck which was white; he showed me a picture of it on his phone. Occasionally when he talked he removed his hat and messed his hair, never breaking eye contact, always looking at me with those clear blue eyes.

He told me about the house they used to live in on Worley Street, the one with the porch that everyone always fell off of. He fell off it and his dad laughed, so when his dad fell off it, he laughed. Fair is fair. He laughed again now, telling the story.

We went on like that for I don’t know how long, him talking, smiling, and laughing, and me enjoying his company. Eventually he broke eye contact and looked out the window. “The sun is shining,” he said, speaking my love language and maybe his too.

“I have to walk in it, in the sunshine,” I said, the first substantial thing I’d said since asking what happened.

“I’m going to wait for my dad,” he said, easing into the couch in a relaxed manner.

“Thank you for having a drink with me,” I said, and his clear blue eyes smiled one more time before I left.

The Bible says that we all belong to each other. It says that we have everything in common – our things and our personhood. And it says that two are better off than one because, in a pinch, we can help each other up. (Unless, of course, it’s you or your dad and you fall off a porch, then you just laugh and laugh.)

Sometimes we need reminded that community is important. Community can simply mean connecting with someone in a real way, finding what you have in common, or helping someone up who is facing one of life’s many challenges. I am fiercely independent and really like to be alone, so it stretches me to have these kinds of conversations, to make these kinds of connections, to invite others into my space, but it is always worth it. I always come away feeling like we have more in common than not; we are more alike than I realized; we all have a dad story and a truck story and a home that we remember with fondness.

Recently I told someone I understood wanting to live in a neighborhood where your neighbors are “just like you,” but what if “others” are more like you than you think? What if you decided to sit down with someone who looked uncomfortable, or who made you uncomfortable, or simply looked different than you with his gorilla taped jeans, and you shared a cup of coffee and some bacon, or a bag of chips and a bottle of water, and listened without judgment for what you have in common? Maybe you would discover what I did – that we belong to each other, and we aren’t that different after all.

Katie Terrell is the director of Wilmington Hope House and shares in the ministry at Dover Friends Meeting.

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