Holiness in our Midst: Session 47

Holiness in our Midst


STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Remember a place that is now shuttered or lost forever. Why would you like to go back there?

The place I would like to return to is the “Doug Out” in State Center, IA, a restaurant just off Highway 30. It was my home-away-from-home in the 1990s, a point of balance in my uncertain world as I re-established life in Iowa after caring for my grandmother during her last years. The baseball-themed place was owned by Doug Riley and his wife Julie. The walls were covered with posters from Wrigley Field and autographed photos of famous ballplayers. National League pennants were on one side of the place, American League ones on the other. Baseball caps dangled on strings from the ceiling; tall men had to duck.

Most of all, the “Doug Out” was a place of belonging. A cross-section of real people came through the doors. Once I spied a sweatshirt that read: “Lifestyles of the Poor and Obscure.” One regular wore a cap that said, “I drive fast to give my Guardian Angel something to do.” Another had a bumper sticker: “Never cuss a farmer on a full stomach.” The daily intergenerational gathering of the usual suspects had the ambiance of the back fence, potluck, church social and family reunion all rolled into one. Waitresses Janice Olson, Julie’s mom, and Rene Ward noticed when I wasn’t there or deviated from my usual order. It was like church, without having to sit still for a sermon. I would like to go back there today and bask in the raucous laughter and unconditional acceptance of that particular community of great storytellers. National and world disasters seemed less threatening when we faced them together around a big table with delicious food. For several years, the “Doug Out” was my “third place,” even before I was familiar with the term. According to Wikipedia, “a third place” is the social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). My daily restaurant was my safe place of renewal, with great conversation and great burgers!


  1. Read the above reflection.
  1.   Write about a place, now gone, that you hold dear in your memory. Why was it important to you? What drew you there? What kept you there? Why would you like to go back there now?


  1.   Read aloud Session XLVII.   

2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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