One of the joys that I have several times a week is walking the Royal Mile to New College. It is a beautiful stretch with shops, statues, and an overall nice atmosphere. I study here at the college on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. The other two days I study from home.
In making this walk, there is a little coffee shop I like to frequent. One of the main reasons is that their Americano is a pound cheaper than anywhere else. I am a PhD student, after all.
One of the reasons I like to buy items from the same place is that sometimes you get the chance to actually learn names and give the city more of a “village” feel. As a Christian, I am convinced that this type of living can result in more authentic connections that hopefully, at some point, result in an open door for sharing the Gospel.
Today on my way to the school, I made my usual stop (coffee is in hand as I type). Over the past few weeks, I made a point to learn the name of the young man (from a country in the EU) who is there every morning. His name is “Niko.” He is very kind and has a cool accent (I wonder what he thinks of my Texas accent?). Last time I was in the shop, he felt bad that he could not remember my name. Today, when he saw me, he said, “Is it J.B.?”
“Close,” I replied. “You got the letters right, and that is the hardest part.” I then looked at him and addressed him by name. I have come to really enjoy this moment and appreciate that in some way, this is our way of acknowledging that we do not merely exist as a means to complete a commercial transaction. We are humans.
As he stood at the register, he said, “I am giving you a discount.” I then asked the reason. He immediately responded, “Because you know my name.” Just like that, my coffee was cheaper.
For some, this might seem to be much ado about nothing. But for me, especially in this large city, there is a young man named Niko that I enjoy seeing. Considering how long I will be here studying, who knows what may come of this connection. I know that ultimately, my heart is that somehow, a spiritual dialogue ensues. We shall see.
If you are a Christian, slow down a bit today. Look people in the eye. Ask their name. Try to remember it. In a world intoxicated with speed, progress, efficiency, and productivity, go the other way. Take the narrow road. See people. Look at people. How else will the second greatest command of Jesus (Matthew 22:36-40) ever have a chance of being fulfilled in your life?