The Doctor’s Mocha Medicine

If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matthew 10:42)

If you’ve spent any time at all in a hospital, you know that the places of healing aren’t confined to doctor’s offices or operating rooms. Nor are they reserved for patients only. Last week, while I was waiting for my wife to finish a medical appointment, I was attended to by the doctor who operates Alexandria Hospital’s ground floor coffee shop.

I walked over from the row of faux leather chairs to order coffee. A woman whose name tag said “Laura” asked what I’d like. I replied with my usual – “A medium mocha.”

“Would you like that hot or cold?” she asked.

“Hot.” Then I paused. “Actually, my throat’s been sore all day, so maybe a cold one would feel better.”

“All right,” she said, “and would you like a non-dairy milk substitute in that too?”

“Hmmm,” I muttered. “I don’t know. Why?”

“Well, sometimes dairy milk can irritate your throat, add a film to it and make you want to keep clearing it. If your throat’s already sore, you don’t want to make it worse. But another type of milk wouldn’t do that. We have oat, almond, coconut, and soy.”

“Wow, I’d never have thought of that. Thank you,” I said. “Let’s try a mocha with … almond milk.”

“Coming up.” As she prepared it she talked more about the irritation that dairy milk can cause, how making substitutions can help your health, how it can help you have a better day, and so on. With the snap of a cap, she put the mocha medicine in front of me.

“You’re very thoughtful to tell me all this,” I said. “I can tell this isn’t just a job for you.” I swiped my card through the little square box.

Laura chuckled. “I call myself ‘Doctor Laura in the coffee shop.’ I just do what I can to help people feel better. I figure we have to use the gifts God gives us, and God has put me here for a reason.”

Another customer stepped forward. “Thank you,” Laura said to me, “and have a blessed afternoon.”

I took her words and my cup back to my chair. Laura knows she has a gift of making a good cup of coffee. I never read “coffee-making” in the Bible’s list of spiritual gifts, but it’s clearly a knack that’s eluded me all my life.

She also has the gift of listening. She heard my off-hand sore throat comment and realized an opportunity to help. She spoke up, and she acted. “The milk of human kindness,” I mused to myself, “that’s what she just poured in my cup.”

I don’t know how Laura came to be hired for that job, but she gave God the credit. She named God casually and easily. For some people those words mean little, and for others of us they explain a great deal.

Laura saw her daily work as not just a job but a ministry, a way to bless others and honor God. The words plus the cup, offered together, spoken and poured, nourished me with healing grace, just as they have to believers throughout the ages.