A Moment of Grace

La Vaquita

My wife and I had our first meal at La Vaquita Meat Market, Grocery Store, and Restaurant in Baytown, Texas, just before driving back to New Orleans after the Christmas holiday. We shared a quesadilla and had half of it left, so I went to the counter to get a take-home box. As I returned toward our table a lady cleaning the tables got to our plate before me and dumped the left-over food in the trash.

The manager saw what happened as I was approaching the table and so he immediately came up to me to ask what I was eating. I told him it was fine and that there was only half a plate left anyway. He still sent his associate to get us a new plate of quesadillas, explaining that they like to take care of people like family there.

As the associate went back behind the food counter, the manager extended his hand, told me his first name, and I told him mine as we shook hands. I added my Spanish name for William, Guillermo.

He explained that he had been a fruit picker in California and had come a long way since those days. He first started one little store and now had four in Texas and one in Lafayette. He said, “It’s quite a long story.”

I said I would like to hear that story sometime and that it must have taken courage to launch into starting a new business. He said people sometimes come to buy things in the grocery and they are a few dollars short, so he says, “No problem,” and gives them the food anyway, “because we like to treat this like family.” His associate returned with a fresh plate of quesadillas, we shook hands again, and my wife and I took a moment to shop through his grocery store before leaving.

I would call that exchange a little moment of grace. A business owner takes that kind of spiritual attitude out of a sense of abundance, not scarcity. He also demonstrated a deep sense of gratitude in his story of where he had come from and where he is now, from fruit picking for next to nothing to owning five stores that were obviously doing very well, (there was a long line waiting to order lunch).

Attitudes like abundance, (there is enough for everyone), and gratitude are primary attitudes in the kingdom of God. And extending grace and generosity to people is at the heart of God’s kingdom. So I would say the manager demonstrated the kingdom of God without using any religious words. And we were blessed to receive the kingdom gifts.

If you are ever in Baytown, Texas, and in need of a little moment of grace, I recommend stopping by La Vaquita. I plan to ask the manager to share his story the next time we are in town, because I never seem to get my fill of grace.

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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