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Everyone knew everyone! This was 1973, Sunday after church in Sweetwater, Texas at the new Dairy Queen. A small town and friendly...this was America at its best until "they" arrived.
We were there in our Sunday best with the kids, all fresh and refreshed from our Sunday school and church activities. We knew almost everyone in the building and enjoyed the waving and interactions with them. A beautiful day until "they" arrived.
"They" pulled into a vacant parking slot directly in front of the building, completely visible to everyone. Their car was a new, moderately expensive sports car and he was driving. They came in and took the only remaining table in the center of the restaurant. All conversation stopped, every eye on them.
"They" were a mixed race couple, a young white girl with a young black man. They must have come off the Interstate highway only about 1/2 a mile away. "They" were definitely not locals.
Suddenly all the freshness and refreshing from the morning's church activities were gone. Every child was staring and every mom was saying "Don't stare!" Every man was thinking, "He probably works for her dad and is the girl's chauffeur." At least these were my thoughts and the actions of my wife and children. All waving and interacting between friends stopped. "They" had entered our turf.
I observed them by peripheral vision, never looking directly. They were obviously friendly towards each other, talking and smiling. Both were well dressed although not in coat and tie wardrobe like us good church goers. Their car cost more than mine. All this just removed me further from whatever I had learned at church just minutes before.
The young man got up from their table and went to the counter to place the food order, for both of them. He paid for the ordered meal! Every person in the restaurant was watching. All conversations had stopped. The young man returned to his seat and we all were a bit further from our Sunday lessons.
"They" seemed so relaxed, enjoying the day, smiling and talking. Turmoil and tension were resident at all the other tables however. An uneasiness was apparent. We had just left our all-white churches, come to our all-white restaurant only to have our lives and turf invaded by these travelers. Fortunately "they" would be gone soon and our lives could return to normal.
Then his food order was called. They spread their food on the table, then with every eye on them, he reached across the table and they joined hands! You could even see and even feel the gasps!
His left hand touching her right hand, both bowed their heads as he quietly prayed over the meal. Suddenly all of everything was focused on what we had just observed.
We had been condemning and judging although having just come from our church services. We had not paused and prayed over the food. "They" had just brought the message of the day...conviction! I believe "they" had been sent to show us God's heart...and our own. The Dairy Queen Sunday had been good.
Named Writer of the Year in 2005, Ted Weaver is also an accomplished public speaker, educator and auctioneer. Mr. Weaver held positions as the Manager of the Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Pro-Tem in Sweetwater, Texas. Contact Ted Weaver at TedWeaver@juno.com or by phone at 719-964-5268.