Do you ever think about what heaven will be like?
Two words: Panera Bread.
Have you ever been? It is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for bread lovers! When we go through the door, I hear angel music in my head. Sunlight glows brightly around all of the counters and cases.
I always get the cheese pastry — it’s my very favorite. I pretend I’ll get something else. I consider the pecan roll, with tantalizing large pecans on top and caramelly goodness dripping off the sides. This time, the bear claws looked delish. I’ve never had a bear claw, and wasn’t sure what it was, but wanted one really bad. Scones — orange, blueberry and cinnamon crunch — whisper for me to take them home. Cherry pastries, cinnamon twists, oh, and the chocolate croissants — for the love! Tiny morsels of chocolate yummy were peeking out the ends! Whew! I wasn’t even to the cashier yet!
My beloved insists he doesn’t like bread. (I snicker when he says it.) This is the same guy that gained 10 pounds on brochen and fresh butter when we went to Germany in the 1980s! He nearly swoons at the display of baguettes, sourdough bread and bagels.
We saw something new a while back: babka. We asked “Ali” the cute and efficient cashier about it. “It’s the devil’s work!” she had exclaimed. I took that to mean it was scrumptious going down but went straight to your hips.
Every time I feel compelled to tell at least one Panera employee that this is what heaven will be like. (I’m wound up even before I get my coffee!) Today, it’s “Ali” again and she’s a sweetie. She looked a little disappointed. “But YOU won’t have to run the register!” I blurted out and laughed, trying to console her. She was relieved. I’m sure WORKING at Panera is not nearly as fun as EATING at Panera.
There is an abundance of tasty choices and the coffee is primo, as well. Light roast, dark roast, decaf and hazelnut are brewed continuously with the time of brewing marked right on the pot. All manner of hot teas are available, too.
I get a large cup of dark roast and move to accessorize it to my liking, fixing it the same way every time with half-and-half and Splenda. I sip and then moan. (I hope coffee is in heaven, too!)
My favorite thing is to go early and have my coffee and cheese pastry while I read my Bible. It was later and I had a book called “Four Blood Moons,” by John Hagee. I was totally distracted by everyone there! (I love that, too!) A group of men were doing a Bible study while some senior ladies worked a quiz on paper. (I couldn’t read it but it looked several pages long.) Scores of young and old were sipping coffee or tea and were plugged in to some type of electronic device. One lady, pulled up by the un-lit fireplace, was on her computer AND cell phone!
It takes eight bites and moans for me to finish my cheese pastry. Today I was by myself, and though I love Panera best with my “non-bread loving” man, I’m not afraid to feast alone. I smell the tasty baked goods and the coffee brewing. I look over the crowd again and smile.
Jesus said He was the “Bread of Life” and was born in Bethlehem, which means the “House of Bread”. Yep, I think He would like Panera!