On our recent vacation, the Princess & I stopped at Downtown Disney to check out the 60th Anniversary swag. It is most likely that by the time we get back down to the Park next year the celebrations will be over, so we wanted to see if there was anything we couldn’t live without. A friend had warned me that it was going to be difficult to be that close to Disneyland and not go in. We thought, “How hard could it be? We only have a few hours on our way through.” He was right.
We went into all the stores we wanted. We got smoothies. We meandered and sat by the fountain. Still as we were discussing where we wanted to eat lunch, we had a general feeling of dissatisfaction. There was something missing from our visit. It was Disney, but not quite. We wandered over the directory to decide where to have lunch and there it was — Goofy’s Kitchen
Goofy’s Kitchen is in the Disneyland Hotel where we have never stayed. It is a character themed buffet, which we haven’t done since the Princess was in single digits and much shorter than me. But we were inspired! The Princess ran our purchases to the car and I headed to the restaurant to see if there was any way to get in without a reservation or a two-hour wait. Our worries were for nothing as I walked right up to the desk and was booked into the restaurant immediately. I did notice an odd look on the face of the hostess when I said two adults and she asked me if we were celebrating anything special. When the Princess arrived, we got in line for our photo op with Goofy and the photographer asked, if this was our entire party I realized we might be a little out of the ordinary. However, Goofy was delightful kissing our hands and fussing over us. When we were shown to our seats I finally understood. Not only were we the smallest group being seated, we were the only people without young children.
After we noticed, we had two options. We could eat as fast as we could and leave or we could relax and have some fun. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you can probably guess which option we chose. It didn’t hurt that characters started arriving at our table as soon as we got our drinks. They didn’t care that we didn’t have small children with us. They were fun and playful and posed for many, many photos with us. Our waiter also didn’t care. He was sweet, attentive, and funny. We had a wonderful time and got just enough Disney magic to tide us over until our next visit. And as many things do, our lunchtime adventure got me thinking.
How many people walk into a church for the first time and feel like they don’t fit the mold? Too young, too old? No kids, too many kids? Wrong clothes? Wrong companion? Wrong station in life? They feel like they don’t belong for whatever reason. Do we go out of our way to make them feel special and welcomed or do we just stare at or ignore them?
People come to our churches for many reasons, not the least of which is that sometimes they just need to be there. It is our obligation to welcome them and let them know that we have those reasons in common. While they might look or act differently, we have something in common. We are there in church because we need to be. There is a missing connection that we are hoping to find with God and with each other that strengthens us for the lives we lead. Some people rely on that connection regularly, some people only look for it in times of crisis or transition. No matter what we are all just looking for that special something to get us through until our next visit.