Original Pancake House
February 24, 2004
If you haven’t grown up with corned beef hash, it may be the most disgusting thing on the Original Pancake House menu. Spiced beef and potatoes topped with juicy eggs. The yolk really is the most important part – the right way to do it includes an intense 30 second period of slashing with your butter knife, followed by light stirring with your fork, ensuring plate-wide, egg-yolk-coverage.
Can’t you just taste it?
Of my six roommates, I’m the only one who has late night cravings for my hash and eggs. I love it. The rest of the them can’t even watch me eat it. My roommate from Texas tried it the other day, but I think his polite smiles at the dining room table were little social lies.
I admit, it’s not exactly a next-gen food (can we categorize food like that?), it’s definitely a grandma food. Or maybe a grandpa food; beef and potatoes in a fifties, manly, sort of way.
Which is why I was unaccompanied on my “hash-and-eggs” crew to the Original Pancake House this morning. I was okay with being alone, though. The 11 a.m. traffic wasn’t that bad, and I was praying. It was then, right at the 2nd light, I was filled with the presence of the Spirit of God.
I love that, too.
Suddenly it didn’t matter that I was driving, or where I was going. It was all about Who I was with. It was that tender feeling of wanting Him, of His Spirit warm on my back. The rest and friendship; the grace of love. I sighed and whispered praises to my King, admiration for his Creation, His glory and mercy.
Then the slow conviction of where my daily rebellion registers in contrast to glory. Oh, the sadness of my sin. Why did I ever choose it? How could I serve anything less than the beauty I felt in my heart? I felt deep humility and inadequacy. Lord, I breathed, my sin has never brought me life … help me.
Oh. The light was green.
I sheepishly pressed the gas pedal and in two minutes left-turned into the restaurant parking lot. Lots of Buicks at the pancake house. The guy inside looked up and nodded a greeting. “Just me.” I said, “Non-smoking please.” We walked to a booth, he produced some water and handed me the menu. “Amy will be with you in a moment,” he smiled, for probably the 200 th forced time that morning.
I removed my coat and stared at the options. It didn’t take long to decide. I sat and waited for Amy. Things seemed reasonably busy, but there were empty tables on my right. I looked out the window at the gray sky. I took a sip of water, glanced about for a waitress, and then sipped some more water.
Where was she? I glanced at my cell phone for the time, and decided to switch it to “ringer-off”.
I started to pray, God, what were we saying in the car? I got distracted by a waitress who seemed to walk towards me, but stopped before she arrived.
I waited. Then started thinking: “Wait”-tress, ha-ha. There was not much water left from that dinky cup they give you. I made sure my menu looked very closed. Hey, THAT table was getting service. How long did they expect me to wait? I downed my last bit of water?And then I was angry.
What was this? If someone doesn’t walk up to this table right now ... This is outrageous, and arrogant of them. Ignoring me like the idiots they were. It’s got to have been ten minutes. My waitress was probably watching me right now and laughing. I deserve better than this. I had better get something free for this. Jerks.
Do you have those moments when the humility leaks out like someone pulled the drain? Going, from “I’m hungry for Jesus” to “I’m a jerk” in eight seconds or less?
Ooh. My opportunity was headed this way. “Nobody’s stopped by,” I said pertly as the managerwhipped by my table. I smiled that nasty fake smile I have, the one that seems to use both rows of teeth. It was horrible.
Why does breaking me demand so much? These rights I have; this respect I deserve, the right to place my order immediately. How can the same coin hold engravings of inadequacy on one side, and arrogance on the other? Am I both the worst of sinners and the best-in-show? Can I claim to be competent and careful if I am unable to control my sin?
How did it take just an instant for every holy image of God around me to become living trash? For me to find anger at the supposed insubordination around me; for me to place myself at the center of the universe so quickly?
Jenny showed up just a second later. Her name tag was slightly skewed to the left, but she smiled. “I’m so sorry you had to wait. Amy isn’t able to make it over. Is it okay if I take care of you?”
“Sure,” I said, waking from my private rant long enough to recall my order. “I’ll have hash and eggs.”
Jenny gave my this funny little smile, likely reserved for those using the Senior Citizen’s Discount. “Corned beef hash and eggs?” she repeated.
“Yeah,” I said, “eggs over-medium, and could you do extra crispy hash browns?” I looked up, feeling her presence. She smiled again, this time her eyes joined in. And suddenly I remembered who I was. This child of God, being served by another crown of Creation. I was learning a holy lesson from a waitress named Jenny.
Maybe this is the reality of the Spirit of God. His untouchable force that still seems to be able to touch me, working as a counter force to my angst and pride. I move, and gently He moves back, breaking my soul from its downhill rolls.
“Thanks,” I said to Jenny as she hurried off. Thanks for your service; thanks for teaching me again about the Spirit within me. Love and eggs, corned beef and humility at the Original Pancake House.
[Chris Ridgeway is a next-generation missionary with Great Commission Ministries who repeatedly interprets life as a post-apocalyptic Kevin Costner flick. His cholesterol count, although less epic, remains a mystery.]
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