Outcasts and Oddballs

written by Maggie Kane, Executive director of Table Raleigh

"Yes to coffee. Yes to community. Yes to knowing each other’s stories. Yes to gathering at the Table. And yes to always making room for more."

 

This past Thursday, I got a rare treat. The cafe was slow and the block was empty, and I got a chance to sit down outside and drink a cup of coffee. As I sat there sipping a cup (Ok, five. I have a caffeine problem. I realize this), I got to think about my week. It had been a crazy one, up and down with laughter and joy and some really heavy stuff. There was a funeral, and there were several dear friends experiencing heartache.

And then there was Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite authors, who died last week. So many of her words have shaped me through the years. But one little snippet of hers embodies what I want Table to be, and it frames every day I spend at the cafe:

“This is what God's kingdom is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry, because they said yes. And there's always room for more.”

I was turning those words over in my head that Thursday when Anna and Frank walked up the block. They’re fellow coffee drinkers (Frank is up to my level) and dear friends of the cafe. They come in every single day, drink cup after cup, and read their books. Over weeks and months and many, many refills, our volunteers have come to know them and love them. One of those volunteers is Danielle.

Danielle has been volunteering for her meal daily for three months. She loves volunteering and boy is she good at it! That Thursday, she refilled my cup before I even knew I needed it, and then I heard, “GRAMPS! So happy to see you. I love you.” She had spotted Anna and Frank.

From the middle of a bear-hug, Frank returned the sentiment. Then came Ashley, another regular volunteer, who joined in the hug and the delight in seeing Anna and Frank.

I saw before my eyes the kingdom of God that Rachel Held Evans was talking about, and it filled my heart with such love for our community.

This chatty, huggy, unlikely group--of retirees and younger souls, black skin and white skin, means and little means, transgender and cisgender, coffee drinkers and coffee re-fillers--know and love one another because they’ve said “yes.” Yes to coffee. Yes to community. Yes to knowing each other’s stories. Yes to gathering at the Table. And yes to always making room for more.

Reader, fellow outcast, fellow oddball: We are all hungry. We are all thirsty. And I’m so grateful that you, too, have said yes.

 

With gratitude,

Maggie

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