While sitting in the dentist’s chair this morning undergoing a deep cleaning (UGH!), I was contemplating two questions: 1) why did I once again put off my annual check-up, resulting once again in something hurtful and 2) what am I going to write for a reflection? I’m blocked!
The first answer was easy. Although I really like and trust my dentist, the thought of having my teeth worked on is very unpleasant for me. It’s one of those things I choose to avoid, knowing full well that at some point I will break through my avoidance and choose to go back. And there was the answer to the second question: the word “choose.” I can choose. I have choices – oh, so many choices. And so many good choices, with backups, so that if I choose one thing that doesn’t work out, in most instances I have another relatively good choice to fall back on. That is a luxury compared to most of the world. To most of our meal guests, actually.
One of the first standards practiced at the Gathering that I became aware of in my early days here was that of offering choice to our guests. We don’t have a lot of choice we can offer, but we do have some. We ask if a guest wants a particular item rather than just assume and slop it on the plate. We ask guests to choose which cookies/pastries they would like. We offer milk and/or coffee both on the line and more coffee while guests are eating. We say “hello” and are not offended if a guest chooses not to respond.
So what’s the big deal about being able to choose which cookies you want? At the Gathering we believe that choice and dignity are intertwined. Giving choices – even small ones – affirms that the individual has the right and the ability and the freedom to choose. It helps set a tone of respect, acceptance, friendliness, community, family. That’s the big deal. The ability to choose, matters.