A place to gather, grow — just like church

Nancy McCormick - Contributing Columnist

Hymn – Take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

I have a fond memory of working as a waitress in the farming community in Iowa that my husband and I lived in, 35 years ago.

Many farmers would meet daily for breakfast or lunch, and it did not take me long to see this was a place of communion and sacred gathering for many of them. Connecting with one another on a daily basis was important as they shared weather updates, birth announcements, health reports, farming disappointments and farm progress.

I learned how to make homemade biscuits that were sweet, from our cook Mildred. To this day there is nothing better than one of these biscuits, with a cup of strong coffee. She was a saucy but sweet kind of gal whose husband died years earlier. Mildred was in need of a remedy for loneliness as well as an income to assist her with her bills. This little community met all those needs for this country cook.

This restaurant is just what the doctor ordered for me, as well. You see, my husband and I had returned home after what we considered to be a failure in a ministry in northern California – and we needed some time to heal and restore our spirits. That job in that little café fed the very soul that was dry and thirsty within me. Daily I met people who came in for simple nourishment with no pretense of who they were. They spoke plainly and sometimes argued with gusto, but for most it was a safe place to check in.

The dinner table has always been a symbol for me, a beautiful reminder of a place to meet God. A place where the bread is broken and the drink is poured – and my thirst is satisfied. On Friday afternoons there was a group of women who would come in to gather around their table as well. They were retired and needed a way to stay connected to friends they cared about. They always ordered the same thing — hamburgers, homemade pie and coffee. They would share concerns as well as accomplishments about their families and offer encouragement to one another. They loved Mildred’s pie and sometimes would ask to speak to her and get the recipe she used.

There was always talk of God in this meeting place and like the variety of food we ate so were our beliefs. I believe God opened the front door of that little café just so I could learn more about Him through His Community. I have also discovered the church is all around me – where two or three are gathered, there is God, and I probably have something to learn.

Psalm 42 speaks of seeking God like a deer panting for water — spiritual nourishment is what I found in that little oasis of refreshment. How wonderful the provision of God. It was a place to gather, a place to grow, a place to learn – sounds like church.

Pastor Nancy McCormick pastors along with her husband, Michael, at Chester and Springfield Friends Meeting.


Nancy McCormick

Contributing Columnist