I don’t know if you have occasion to do much by yourself, including eating at a restaurant alone. Some people don’t like to do anything alone and have problems being themselves, while others, of course, prefer to be alone. As someone like that, I would still have to say that I don’t like eating out in public by myself. It feels awkward, even if I take a book. I do see people regularly come in to eat by themselves carrying a book. I try to see what they’re reading or even ask them what the book’s about because I can be nosy like that.
We were at Aston Avenue Diner for lunch Tuesday, and I saw three people come in alone with a book. Now, I didn’t have a chance to quiz them on their reading preferences, which I found disappointing, but after all into every life a little rain must fall. The people sat down and contentedly read their books after they had ordered. I’m always glad to see people reading. Readers are, after all, good-looking, intelligent and kind to small animals.
As we were leaving, I had an idea: I’m sure there are people who sometimes find themselves having to eat alone, and maybe they would like to go to a nice restaurant from time to time. My idea is that the restaurant could offer what the railroads call “community seating.” If the table seats four and you’re with someone else, you’ll be seated with someone you don’t know. My dad and I experienced this the summer we took a train to San Francisco. Even a shy person like me found it a good way to meet some interesting people. Of course, we also met some people I didn’t want to see again, but you pays your nickels and takes your chances. Anyhow, the restaurant could offer community seating for people who want it. Or, to make it work, they could require everyone to sit with someone else. I have to confess that I wouldn’t want to go to a restaurant which required me to sit with someone I didn’t know, but that’s just me. Some of you might like that, especially when the choice is between sitting with someone you don’t know and sitting with a book. Come to think of it, don’t look for this concept to be implemented any time soon.
The spiritual application for this is, I think, that as Christians, we are never alone even when we are. God is always with us, and we are part of a community of believers. So, while we may feel alone at times, we never truly are. That is part of the great Good News and part of being the family of God. Praise God for his presence and for his placing people in our paths to bring us company and comfort!