The SPARROW at STARBUCKS

[I got this in email. I don’t know who the author is. CtH]

Sparrow singing

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it’s enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig. I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the ’40s to the ’90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation.

“What are you in the mood to sing?” I said.

“Do you know any hymns?”

Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look.

“Name one.”

“Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.”

“Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?”

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one.” She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.

Why should I be discouraged?

Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

I sing because I’m happy;

I sing because I’m free.

For His eye is on the sparrow

And I know He watches me.

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin’ to drink, just like you!” But the ovation continued.

I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!”

“Well, it’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said.

“Why is that?”

“Well,” she hesitated again. “That was my daughter’s favorite song.”

“Really!” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual.

“She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week.”

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence.

“Are you going to be okay?”

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.”

She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before?

I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that God could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting God and singing the songs, everything’s gonna be okay.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “The SPARROW at STARBUCKS

  1. Love that story. That kind of serendipitous thing really does happen, though people refuse to believe it. Just a minor example: Wife and I were at a small local place here in Parker listening to a few of the remaining Firefall bandmembers play. They’re local, and often play at the local fairs and clubs. I think it was Steven Weinmeister playing lead that night. While listening, I suddenly had a strong urge to hear a particular song that had meaning for me when I was working trail crew in the mountains in New Mexico back in the late-70s, early-80s timeframe. It was not a Firefall song, but it occurred to me that these guys could really do it well. Immediately after the current song ended, Weinmeister started randomly picking and riffing, trying to think of a song to play. Inexplicably, he began playing the long acoustic prelude to the ballad that I was thinking of, and they played the whole thing. I was shocked. Afterward, I asked him why he chose to play that particular song. He said, “Funny you should ask. I was trying to think of something we hadn’t played in a while, and that one just popped into my head. Were you thinking of it?” I said that I had really wanted to hear it. He just smiled and said something about how “Yeah, that telepathy sh*t happens all the time.” 🙂

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    • chrissythehyphenated

      My dd lost two good friends in a terrible accident. We thought she’d be a wreck, but when we spoke with her a couple days after we’d gotten the news, she seemed peaceful. So we asked why. She said the night she’d gotten the news, she was very upset at bedtime and prayed hard for the two, because she didn’t know what their spiritual state had been at death. In the middle of the night, her t.v. turned itself on and woke her up … playing a song that had very specific significance to her in answer to her prayer. She told us she was confident they were both safe with God.

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    • chrissythehyphenated

      The same dd used to have a paper route, which became a source of real concern for us after 2 girls in our small community and from our church were kidnapped and murdered. The culprit was caught and killed himself in jail. But we still felt nervous about her being out and alone in the wee hours of the am on a very predictable path. Her dad did the route with her for a while, as we discussed options.

      She wanted to keep the route, but we all wanted her to be safer, so we adopted a big black dog. The cops told us that people are more afraid of black dogs for some reason. And though this one was actually a greyhound, she looked enough like a Doberman from a distance that we felt better about her. Still, the day she went out alone with the dog, she felt fearful and prayed.

      When she came home from delivering her papers, she was still all wide-eyed at what she’d seen when she prayed. She was walking with her back to the rising sun, so her shadow stretched out very long ahead of her. And she said where there should have been only the shadows of one person and a dog, there appeared the shadows of TWO people and a dog. She was sure it was her guardian angel, reminding her he was truly present and keeping watch over her.

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      • Awesome angel story! You should use this if you do another angel post.

        I was a carrier for the Indianapolis Star for years, and at that time, we also had a few girl carriers attacked. It’s a real danger.

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        • chrissythehyphenated

          The cops had community meetings after the kidnappings. They said most parents worry most about their wee ones, but the kids who are most at risk for stranger abductions are females ages 11-17. I had three in that age range. It was a difficult year for our little town.

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          • Unfortunately, no town is free of that difficulty. I really wish our country (and our Churches) were more willing to use death penalty sentencing for child predators. The recidivism rate for these predators is enormous, so much so that criminal psychologists consider them incurable. And they’re everywhere. I think it’s unconscionable that we do not protect our children from this very real threat when we pay so much attention to all the other lesser threats.

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  2. Pistol Pete

    Back in the late 60’s we had a boy in our town who carried newspapers named Joey Didier.His dad was a successful florist and a long-time alderman.He disappeared while delivering papers on his bike and his body was found weeks later at a state park about 60 miles west of here.They caught the killer and he was ultimately sentenced to life.Unfortunately,after 20 years or so he started coming up for parole hearings.Every time this happened our newspaper would announce it and petitions would cover the town filling with signatures to keep him incarcerated. The sad part was the family who had to relive their loss every few years and go to court to testify in opposition to his release.I confess I stopped paying attention to local news long ago but I imagine he’s burning in perdition by now.

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