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Friday, March 10, 2017

Live Lighter by paying it forward

You never know what’s coming next when you live lighter.

Last week I stopped at Starbucks in Jackson, TN, on my way to Nashville.

I was outside the shop looking for a trashcan. A kind gentleman paused in front of the glass door and offered to open it for me with a smile and a gesture. My hands were full of sacks and empty cups from the last stop and I said muttered about, “Thank you. Go ahead. I’m looking for a trashcan.”

I finally found one around the corner, used it and headed inside through another door. I met the man again, as we came eye to eye wondering who would step up first to the counter.


We both gestured with our hands for the other to proceed and laughed.

It was an unseasonably warm day for March 1. That only matters because this gentleman and I were confused over the same issue. He said, “I”m still deciding if I want mine hot or cold.” I nodded in agreement and replied, “Me too.”

I stepped up to the counter, said hello, and held the barista’s gaze. We made a great connection and her eyeball smiled revealed the full beauty of her round face framed by her short brown hair.

Something in our exchange reminded me how much I adore the human race. How lovely and exotic and wonderful we are.

She asked, “Will that be all?” before telling me the total.

Feeling her wholly there in front of me and the nice gentleman wholly there behind me, I turned, made eye contact with him, and asked,

“Can I buy your coffee?”

He seemed a little surprised. A big smile crept across his chiseled deeply dark face and his eyeball smile followed.

“Well, thank you.” He had decided on a large, cold drink with a shot of flavor. He asked me as he order the Venti with syrup, “Is that okay?”

I told him, “Of course! Get whatever you like.”

The barista was a part of our exchange, typing his order upon the screen as he said it. The three of us had this moment where we each seemed to know something we often forget-


We’re all one big family, really.

At least that’s what this fleeting moment at the Jackson, TN Starbucks reminded me.

The gentleman and I chatted as we waited near the coffee bar for our order. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, “What do you do and what brings you to Jackson?”

He’d been in between careers the last few months. He had just wrapped up a job interview one place and was happy to report he’d also received an offer from another- the city of Memphis.


His kind eyes revealed relief and hope and a kind of excitement for the future.

Then he asked about about my work. I think my eyes may have revealed a sort of relief and hope and excitement as well.


What it means now.

Today, as I reflect on my stop at the Jackson Starbucks, I feel lighter. I love it when I am reminded how connected we all are just beneath our surfaces.

Eyeball smiles and paying it forward that day created an opportunity for Jesus to stand among us. As a matter of fact, I may have bought him a cold Venti and been chatting him up at Starbucks.

Stranger things have happened.

All this to say, that when I open myself up to real human connection and add generosity to the interaction, amazing things happen.

I could tell you story after story of how this combo has brought miracles into my life.

Often in hindsight, I realize I’ve seen the face of God.

Today, I’m going to look for opportunities to pay love forward- eyeball smiles, a listening ear, kindness, encouragement, compliments, and yes, maybe even coffee!

What to join me?


Also published on Medium.



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