As a waitress in the food service industry, I truly see it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
With every shift comes the opportunity to witness conversations, first dates, friendships, temper tantrums, break ups, family dynamics, sexual tension, parenting skills, individual eating habits, college student struggles—the list goes on and on.
Every once in a great while though, I get to see a rare interaction take place: after I set down hot plates of food and turn to walk away, customers will discreetly bow their heads, touch their palms, and pray.
The first time I witnessed this, I had just placed a pile of pancakes in front of a mother and young daughter. “How sweet,” I thought as the daughter gently reached across the table and held her mother’s open hands. I continued discreetly watching the sweet pair, anticipating their first few bites of breakfast. But instead of releasing their hands and digging into their meal, the child proceeded to drop her chin to her chest and blink her eyes closed, with the mother following suit.
I was unexpectedly floored by the seemingly simple event that was unfolding in front of me. Prayer is an obviously sacred act, and yet, there was something more to this. Something bigger.
I do not belong to a particular denomination, but the intimacy of these moments is not lost on me. In a world where time has become a commodity, prayer becomes precious.
When a person prays to their God, they acknowledge that there is a power at play that is bigger than themselves.
They acknowledge that this world we share has been shared before us, and will be shared after us.
They acknowledge that their heartbeat—one of billions—is part of a collective.
Witnessing these quiet moments of grateful prayer causes me to reflect on the collective that is humanity. All across the globe, warm hearts are continuously beating, lungs are relentlessly pumping air through bodies. We unconsciously contribute to a universal rhythm composed of aspirations.
As you take your next inhale now, consider the others. The others who are inhaling, the others who are exhaling.
Consider the others who may not have food on their table to pray over.
Consider the others who live across oceans.
Consider the others who you have learned from.
Consider the others who you have not yet met.
As you exhale, their hearts are beating, their lungs are pumping.
This is not a call to action—this is a call to stillness, to reflection. Regardless of your faith or lack thereof, make time for the stillness.
Tuck your chin, bow your head, touch your palms.
Consider the rhythm, consider the others.
Author: Hannah Palmateer
Image: Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron