The Mandarin is an acclaimed Chinese restaurant here in Brampton, Ontario. It is one of several Mandarins but this one is the teaching site for all of them so diners receive a care that is unusual for its warmth and attentiveness.
We understand that its five large dining rooms could accommodate 500 patrons at one time, and during the time set for the noon meal (from 11:30 am until 2 pm) all five appear quite well used.
We were graciously seated in the bird room, where a large glassed-in bird enclosure, large enough for a human keeper to enter and move around in, frames one wall. In it were several pairs of love birds patrons could watch while eating.
Once shown to a table, diners remain seated until servers have introduced themselves and offered them steaming hot cloths for their hands. Then they leave their table and join other patrons in a large central area where the vast array of delectable choices awaits.
First there is the long two-sided salad bar where one could fill a plate with more than 30 choices.The second trip to the buffet area is to the long two-sided serving tables where a wide variety of Chinese-style entrees await. The third trip back is to an elaborate dessert bar.
Our table was set for four but Kathleen and I sat on two adjoining sides so we could be close enough to chat as we ate.
We were enjoying our entrees when a woman came from another table of four who were eating nearby and spoke to us. “It’s such a delight” she said pleasantly, “to see two elderly people relishing a meal together and appearing to enjoy one another’s company.”
Kathleen and I are not yet fully adjusted to the adjective, “elderly” but we smiled and agreed that this was a pleasant experience for both of us.
She had noted and wondered at our serenity and apparent pleasure. She asked, what was the secret? I offered in a few words that we pray together regularly, and we enjoy our life together.
”With the word, pray, she brightened further. “Oh.” she said, “That’s precious; you’re believers; I’m a believer too; I have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to be my Savior.” She later added that she was a Baptist from Northern Alberta. The buzz of many conversations going on at the same time in the large room kept our talk easy but private.
She was an attractive woman, much younger, with stylish glasses, and she exuded a sense of inward joy herself. She left us briefly and then returned to ask permission to take our picture. We accommodated, moving close together so she could get a close-up.
Later Kathleen and I agreed in our conversation alone that we never know when someone nearby is watching. Nor what a quiet, well-chosen word might draw from total strangers.
With the increasing secularization of our society and the growing hostility toward Christianity, it’s going to become more and more important for serious Christians to “let our lights shine” in whatever ways are possible and appropriate.
Sometimes we might have occasion to let it shine like a spotlight, focused and declaring unabashedly the Lordship of Jesus Christ; at other times it might shine by a mere gesture such as bowing our heads in a public place to offer thanks over a meal; or it may be merely a gracious word dropped to a waitress when paying the bill; at other times it could be no more than some unplanned kindness offered with a quiet: “God bless you.”
But at the least our witness must be reflected merely in a general demeanor — personal and Christ-honoring — that carries a wordless message, realizing that we seldom know who’s watching.
Photo credit: waymarking.com