Showing Hospitality To Strangers
As another Christmas approaches, the thought of angels are front and centre in most of our minds. This piece was published last year and with a little revision is shared again this year. It is one of those posts that bloggers refer to as “evergreen,” because of the timelessness of its content. Angels are very much among us and that is a truth that cannot be ignored or go out of style.
Four years ago, life was somewhat different for me. I had relocated from Alberta en route to Jamaica for what I thought was a re-migration to my country of birth. However, in the end that was not meant to be. Along the way, strangers appeared who turned out to be angels. They come in many forms and the Christian Bible reminds us of this fact:
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2, New International Version
Like many of you, I have failed to recognize much less be hospitable to many of the angels who have appeared in my life. Why? Well, they did not have wings. They did not announce their arrival. They did nothing that would immediately tell me who they really were. Worse yet, sometimes these angels were disguised as not really nice people. Those were the most problematic ones. It would take me years, well into my 40’s, before it became clear to me that our greatest lessons are delivered by those who challenge us the most. In 2012, I was in a life class, teaching me my last lesson in letting go when it comes to relationships and my need to be surrounded by friends.
Touched By Angels
This story about angels and their disguises was shared on my Facebook page on this very day in 2012. I was grappling with the unveiling of the people who once presented themselves as well-meaning and thoughtful. An angel quietly came by and reminded me that:
- Sometimes the people who you think “would not” will.
- The people who you expect nothing from gives the most,
- Friends, lovers, even family members might promise much but a stranger will give the most in your time of need.
This leads me to ask whether you were like me and a huge fan of “Touched by an Angel?” Well, I met Mona, my own personal Mona, on that December 7 wintry day in Toronto, Ontario. She appeared to me that evening after I had left work in my new city. Except for the angels who led me to this city, I knew no one else. It was truly a struggle settling down and finding a job. I was kicked out from where I was originally invited to stay by an “angel” less than a week before Christmas. Another one abandoned me, only offering shelter for one night.
Living On The Edge
My only resort was to rest my eyes a couple of nights in a coffee shop. My few belongings were stored while I searched for an affordable room (I could not afford anything more than that). I found one but after paying the deposit and first month rent, there was only few dollars left in my purse. Needing to fill my prescription, I made a plan how best to stretch the money left until pay-day. Maybe, just maybe, I could buy some groceries as well. Part of that planning included mapping out the bus route in my new neighbourhood.
In Toronto a bus ticket is good for two hours and only along the same direction. So, I had to make sure that both the pharmacy and grocery store were along the route home. The plan then was to fill my prescription and pick up a few grocery items while there and only enough that I could comfortably carry. On my way to work, I noted that one of my bus options passed by the South exit of the Wal-Mart/Mall parking lot.
“Great,” I thought. I got the times for the bus and figured I could make the 7:00 or the 7:42 bus that evening.
Wal-Mart Will Always Get Me
Well, I do not know about anyone else but Wal-Mart is my nemesis!
Worse yet, Christmas was coming and, although it was going to be spent alone, the spirit of the season always nips me. My personal long bag that I used daily went MIA soon after entering the store. I came out that Saturday evening laden with five Wal-Mart “scandals” (that is what we call plastic bags in Jamaica)!
No, I did not spend a lot of money – C$30 or so which was within the budget I had planned for potential grocery. Furthermore, quite a few things were on sale. Instead of passing them by, I shifted and stretched my minimal budget even further.
Did I mention that it was raining? And this is no ordinary rain – it was icy rain. Thankfully, I was well bundled up and wearing the heaviest Lugz boots ever made. It was a throw-over from my winters in Alberta that I had brought along with me to Toronto.
Angels In Parking Lots
I trudged across the main road. Unlike on my island home, here in North America these main roads can be quite wide. To make matters worse, it was pitch dark at 6:15 p.m. as if it was midnight. What I thought was a simple cut across the mall parking lot was looking to be more like a marathon. My knees were giving out with the onset of my winter arthritis. I was exhausted having worked a long shift for the sixth day in a row and from wearing those heavy boots. So, I decided to ask a passerby whether I was going the right way.
Now, those of you who live in North America or travel here, know that North Americans walk very quickly and hold their heads straight. I had to rush after her, yelling, “Hi, hello, excuse me, Miss!”
She stopped and turned to me. I asked if she knew the way to the street that I wanted. She oriented herself and said, “Yes, you need to go across there,” all the while looking down at my many bags.
It seems to me she did not notice anything other than my bags. The next thing I knew she was saying, no, ordering me to get in her car.
“What, what? No, that’s not necessary,” I spluttered.
She would have none of it and slightly nudged me towards her SUV.
Paying It Forward
To cut a long story short, I quickly realised that the bus stop was 15 minutes away walking. When we got there, this angel said, “Heck, I am on the road already, where exactly do you live?”
Now, let us be clear that I am not suggesting or even recommending, one, that you get into any stranger’s car. Two, I am not recommending you let them drive you home. Having said that, in that moment I felt safe enough to do both. She drove me to my door. Just like another angel who I met less than a couple of weeks before, she said to me “Someone did this for me in the past and you will do this for someone one day.”
I wanted to hug her but held back due to the North American sensibilities that do not necessarily allow such display. So expressing my gratitude by her overwhelming kindness, I said to her “I hope you don’t mind my saying this but may God bless and keep you!”
She laughed and said “I don’t mind at all.” That is how I knew for sure she was one of the angels!
Share Your Angels
Have you met angels recently? Did you immediately recognize them? Share your story with me in the comments below. Also, subscribe and receive a weekly update of our posts. Check out last year’s Christmas posts, including those from our Contributors.
Have a great rest of the day and may God/Source/The Creator/Allah/Life (whatever name you choose) bless and keep you and yours throughout this season and the rest of 2016!