It was the first sunny day after way-too-many days of rain in a row. I was so excited to get out there and soak in my much-needed hit of vitamin D.
After running a bunch of errands, I met up with my BFF for coffee in the park. This a favourite pastime of ours. We like to make up stories of the people we see and let me tell ya, 17th Ave is the perfect place to observe people!
Our people-watching, coffee-drinking bench – summer 2012
So we were sitting there talking about our families and other current goings-on when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a homeless man approach us. I’d spied him with his friends earlier but they were a ways off and now he was approaching us.
I’m going to steer away from this story for a moment to say that I had spent 20 years of my life working for an organization that cares for the homeless and I’d learned a lot from them about what’s really important in this world. I’m not a stranger to the sector. I’m not afraid of people who are experiencing homelessness. And I’m not proud of the rest of this story, in fact, I’m a little ashamed because I know better.
Ok, back to my story… I just really wasn’t wanting an encounter with a homeless person at that moment. I think I mumbled something like, ‘Oh here we go’ under my breath. I was annoyed. Me and my BFF were having a good conversation. We hadn’t seen each other in a few days and I didn’t feel like getting pan-handled!
So, this man approaches us with his hand out (not to receive change, but offered as in a handshake) and I’m thinking to myself, “I am NOT shaking your hand!” He said something that I didn’t quite catch and then followed up with, “Jesus will be coming soon and He loves you and I LOVE YOU TOO!”
Ok, this is me steering away from the story again for a moment. Some of you know that I am a Christian. You may also know that I have been embarrassed about the way Christians are perceived at times so it’s not something I just come out with when I first meet someone. More on that in this post, if you’re interested
His words cut through all the crap I was thinking like a hot knife through butter. I extended my hand to him and told him Jesus and me, we both loved him too. We chatted a bit more and then he was off to the next bench to bring his message of love to someone else.
Now I know that not all my readers are Christians and that’s OK. That’s not what this story is about for me. It’s about judging people by appearance and making up my mind, before he even spoke, about how this encounter would play out.
If you are familiar with the Bible at all, you would have read about John the Baptist. John lived in the wilderness and to the casual observer he would have given the impression that he was a lunatic. In today’s world we may even say he is mentally ill. I mean seriously, he ate locusts, ranted and raved to passers-by about their hypocrisy and I’m guessing he may not have smelled so good. John however, is the man who Christians the world over recognize as the one chosen to prepare the way for Jesus.
Shame on me for judging another human being in the park before he even spoke a word. In my heart I judged him, yet in his heart he wanted only to bless me – and that he did.
Ok back to the story one last time. As he walked away I couldn’t help feeling that I was on sacred ground – that I had been reminded of an important truth. And I was grateful. I turned to look at my BFF – yanno – to share this special moment with her and was surprised to see her laughing!
“What’s so funny??”
“Didn’t you hear he what he said when he first came over?”
“No, I didn’t quite catch it, what did he say?”
“He said,” she managed to spit out in spite of her giggling fit, “He said…as he was reaching his hand out to you…It’s ‘Be Nice to Old People Day’!”
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. ~ Hebrews 13:2