She stood behind me in line at the counter of our local coffee merchant — the one tucked into the corner of the neighborhood grocery.

I had noticed her a few minutes before as she stood in line to buy a few groceries a couple dozen feet away. It could have been the smile on her face that caused me to notice. But more likely it was the scarf over her head.

Picking a small booth at the window, I carefully placed my coffee to the right. I opened the spiral notebook and thumbed through the book. It's the same book I've been reading in about this same spot for the last two weeks. At a rate of only 4 to 5 pages a day, progress is only gradual.

The book is about running a small business. I've read it before and I have to tell you, it contains some of the best advice I've ever seen. And that was my opinion when I read it the first time. Yet, I never acted on it. Sure, I talked about it and I recommended the book to others. But nothing was ever done.

As I sat and read and made notes this morning, I heard a voice from the next booth. A woman's voice, I didn't turn to see who it was. The conversation became quite lively at times. It was then that I noticed that there was only one voice.

As I headed for a refill on my house-blend, I glanced in the neighboring booth. There was the woman with the scarf, her small bag of groceries on the seat across from her and a small cup of coffee resting on the table between her outstretched hands. Her eyes were focused on her groceries and she was vividly describing her plans for her day.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed other coffee patrons beginning to pick up their cups and move to tables further away. As I passed by her table again, I looked for evidence of a cell phone. I saw nothing. Her conversation was continuing.

As I slid back into my booth, I ignored my book for a while, sipped my coffee and concentrated on her voice. Eavesdropping? I suppose. Yet, she talked loudly and showed no intent for confidentiality.

Within a minute, I discovered that the woman in the scarf was talking with her mother. And it seems that after she had gone over her calendar for the day that her mother had said something disagreeable. Thus, the argument.

Of course, her mother wasn't there. It wasn't a one-sided argument, though. It was obvious when her mother began talking. The tone was different. Finally the woman in the scarf told her mother to mind her own business. And the conversation came to an end.

I glanced at my watch, gathered my book and notebook, and stood to leave. I felt the need to speak to the woman in the scarf — to make sure that she had at least one more conversation today. But, when I turned, she was gone.

The conversation came to an end.
Opportunity lost. Good intentions never acted on. A visit over coffee wasted.

I encourage people to engage others. That's what a community is all about. Sometime today, I truly plan to follow my own advice.

Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope (1 Peter 3:15 CEV).