The Patience of a Fox.
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By Nina Hickey, Volunteer Manager
“Please–tame me!” he said.
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”
~ an excerpt from the French classic, Le Petit Prince
The Prince as a young boy is speaking with a tiny fox, expecting to become immediate friends. Raised wild and very different from the young prince, the fox explains how friendships cannot be assumed or even bought, friendships take careful time and nurturing to develop. Furthermore, the fox gives the prince careful instructions on how to win him over, teaching him the value of patience when approaching new friendships.
At Trinity Cafe, our model is designed to encourage conversation by providing round, comfortable tables for guests to sit with a ‘reserved’ seat for their volunteer host. The guests arrive at the same time each day as the volunteers excitedly anticipate who will be seated at their table. Often times, there are guests who frequent the cafe and might not have a lot to say at first because they are hungry. Much like the Prince, the volunteers must be patient and not press those at their table for information as Trinity Cafe serves all, unconditionally. Many feel comfortable enough to open-up about themselves in the first few minutes and some take a bit longer to share their interests or story.
After volunteering with Trinity Cafe a few times, guests soon recognize and appreciate the caring faces of those who help and serve. Both guests and volunteers alike rejoice in a safe space, not only just to share a meal together but to establish lasting ties of compassion and support. There is great comfort in knowing once inside our walls, all are treated with mutual respect and served with dignity.
Truly at Trinity Cafe the patience a volunteer invests in creating valued connections with our guests is worth the royal rewards in indeed.
Note: the French word apprivoiser directly translates, ‘to tame’, but the meaning of the word is to socialize, to create ties or ‘to win someone over’.