This past Friday night I took my daughter to McDonalds. I had promised this as they have completely redone the restaurant and there is a new play area.
I also decided that I needed to walk into the restaurant because I hadn't walked enough that day (I thought). We arrived at probably the worst time of day for me to walk - 5:30pm - on a Fri - when everyone else had decided, it seemed, to also go to McDonalds. There were different groups - families, teenagers, etc. It was loud; there was a line; it was chaotic. Using my walker was not a good decision - when there's a bunch of noise and chaos, it somehow throws me... I need to concentrate more, people are staring, and standing still is always difficult - it's easier to keep moving.
We got our food and found our table. My daughter ate a bit and then went to play. I... sat. I wanted to go see the new play area, but I was tired, and my Internet connection seemed to work, so I was doing a lot of that. Note to people: rarely do I not want to do something; rarely do I want to stay back; please try to include people with limited mobility. But on Friday night, I just wanted to sit.
It seemed like chaos was everywhere there. Perhaps other people notice things, but with limited mobility, sometimes I have more time to look at things and observe... other people may do this but for me it's more forced.
There were napkins on the ground everywhere. There was a table where milk was spilled and the people had just left it. Tables were dirty. And this is upper-middle class McDonalds.. Those who have stereotypes might be surprised at how messy, loud, and obnoxious this McDonalds was. People were loud - conversations, loud conversations, were in pockets throughout the restaurant. Kids were loud. I'm sure I have been one of "those people" who has left a complete mess and been loud - but I was now watching it.
And then I saw one man by the drinking area, and he was quietly cleaning. That area was a complete mess as well, but he was cleaning it. Then he moved to all the napkins and the milk, while no one was paying attention. By the time we left, the restauant was in much better condition.
What was interesting, for lack of being able to find the right word, was his demeanor of being completely calm in the midst of all this chaos, as he did his job, while no one noticed, while almost no one seemed to care, in this middle class environment, whether they were making a complete mess. No one said thank you. Since no one noticed the incredible mess, they were not cleaning anything, but instead adding to the mess. And in the midst of this chaos, as I watched, was a man simply doing his job without complaining.
And so, during this season of Lent, we may stop, look, and listen. Some of us may be forced to do this, not just during Lent. In the middle of chaos, calm. Somehow in that calm, seemed to be peace. And I watched it, thinking I need to find some of that calm and peace in the middle of the chaotic world.
Perhaps the man cleaning had that sense of peace in the midst of chaos. Perhaps we can all learn from those who seem so different from us, so we can find that same