The Chronicles of Church Fellowship: She Stirs An Empty Coffee Cup

Old lady from Zacatecas, Mexico
Image via Wikipedia

The old lady at the rest home sat at the table with a plate of food and an empty cup before her. With a spoon, she continuously stirred the empty cup. A volunteer happened to walk past and noticed.

Why is that woman stirring an empty coffee cup? Why isn’t she eating her food?” She asked this to the attendant behind the food counter.

I don’t know.” Shrugged the attendant.

Does she do this a lot?” The volunteer pressed.

The attendant shrugged.

Does she eat her food?”

No.” The attendant looked sullen.

CAN she eat whole food or does she need it ground?” It bothered the volunteer to see an old lady sitting before a healthy meal, but stirring an empty coffee cup. Was the old lady daft?

I don’t know.” The attendant said again.

Why don’t you take her food and go into the back and grind it up. Then, put it in the cup and let’s see what happens.”


The attendant nodded and went into the kitchen. A moment later the attendant set the filled coffee cup before the old lady and took away the empty one. The old lady began to drink her food.

A friend at church told me this true story. At first, the words, “An old lady was stirring an empty coffee cup,” evoked images of the movie Psycho. Then, as my friend told me her story, it fit. That old woman stirred an empty coffee cup, not because she had a few nuts and bolts missing, but due to the fact she could not in any other way communicate to the attendants at the home that she could only eat ground food. There’s a lesson in this. I’m not sure my friend caught it like I did, but after a few days of thinking I realized how often we take things out of context.

How many times at church do we jump to conclusions about someone we hardly know? How many moments have we judged someone on a little bit of information without seeing it in context? It’s a hard lesson because we all deem ourselves experts at human behavior. We mistake imagination for discernment. It would have been easy for me to walk past the old lady thinking, “Wow! She’s coo-coo.” I would never have thought beyond the obvious. Sadly, I cannot say I am exempt at judging someone on a little bit of information rather than simply loving them.

Describe a time when you have taken something out of context. What happened and what lessons did God teach you in that moment?

This is my Friday Chronicles of Church Fellowship. If you would like to contribute your story, click here.

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