One Saturday morning, about 6:37, I popped into Panera Bread in St. Charles to pick up 54 individually packaged salads for the women’s retreat that Hungry Souls, the little ministry I head, sponsored. It was called “Summer Slowing for the Soul.” I could tell by the face of the woman behind the counter that she had no clue as to the whereabouts of 54 salads. Nor, after hunting around, did she have an order for them.
“Look,” I said to her, imagining what a shocking beginning this might be to her workday. “We’re not going to sweat this. Fortunately, I’m early. So I’ll just have a cup of coffee, read the paper, and if I get out of here around 8 o’clock, we’ll still be OK. I don’t want you to be upset. I too have been known to be prone to human error.”
That was an understatement.
By the time I left Panera Bread around 8:10, I’d been plied with free coffee, a huge imprinted sack with sourdough rolls, and to make up for their error, three gift certificates worth $18. I thought I had conducted myself in a kind Christian manner. Several people in the long line waiting for morning coffee particularly complimented me on my calm approach.
I did not question myself one moment, until later in the afternoon, after 52 women had successfully slowed their soul in the spring sunshine at the Catholic Retreat Center nearby, and I had hauled all the “props” back home. It was then my husband, ever the pragmatist, asked, “Are you sure you went to the right Panera Bread?”
Pure panic set in. Sure enough, there was a message on my answering machine: “Uh, Mrs. Mains, this is Mitch from Panera Bread. We’ve had your order for 54 individual salads ready since 7:00. It is now 9:00. Will you please call me?”
I certainly AM prone to human error. I had ordered from the wrong store, and I didn’t have a clue which of the 12 in my area had been stuck with 54 individual salads that were not paid for. Thank God I’d had the charity to be kind to the shocked woman who rallied her staff to fill my order.
Now I had a choice. The deed was done. I hated to think of paying an unnecessary $143 from my retreat earnings of $525. But I had obviously misstepped; what did the dance with God require of me now?
If you’re dancing with God, you have to keep dancing even when you misstep. I spent Monday morning calling Panera Breads until one manager (in Geneva) said, “Yep. That’s us. Fifty-four salads—20 Asiago cheese; 16 Fandango; 16 Chef’s Salad with chicken.”
“Well, I want to make this right. How much do I owe you?”
“Oh no, lady,” he replied. “We just mixed them in with the lunch-crowd orders. The problem isn’t with you (I knew it WAS with me); the problem is with the other management team. We’re trained to call the other stores if something like this happens; they didn’t do that.”
I couldn’t believe it! How had this reprieve come my way? I was free to go misstepping another day. (Hopefully, I would remember when making another phone order, to inquire as to location.)
Once a friend said, “Grace is God giving us enough time to get it right.” If that isn’t melody for the soul that is out of step, I don’t know what is.
For me, my daily life dance lessons seem to go on and on. Listen to this, another melody:
“But everyone knows you are obedient to the Lord.
This makes me very happy.
I want you to see clearly what is right
and to stay innocent of any wrong.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16:19-20.
Other projects involving Karen right now are: Working with teams of Christian women to design Retreats of Silence, in both 24-hours and three-days formats, through the aegis of Hungry Souls. Developing hospitality initiatives that train Christian men and women how to use their own homes in caring outreaches through the Open Heart, Open Home ministries. Launching the Global Bag Project, a worldwide effort that markets sustainable cloth shopping bags to provide sustainable incomes for bag-makers in developing nations. Researching the impact of listening groups while overseeing some 240 small groups over the last three years. Experimenting with teleconference mentoring for Wannabe (Better) Writers. Designing the Tales of the Kingdom Web site.