Let mutual love continue.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that
some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2)
Strangers have been loving on me lately.
They haven’t been doing it on purpose, but they’ve been serving me with their unexpected warmth and kindness.
You think you’re just stopping at a hole-in-the-wall Thai place for dinner at the end of a tiring day, but then, before you know it, the sweet old couple who owns the place is shuffling you out the door with extra left-overs and broken-English advice on which car insurance you should buy.
I was the only person in the whole joint, so they lavished attention on me from the moment I walked in the door to the moment I left. The woman — who repeatedly said “thank you, honey” to me as I ate — actually hugged me goodbye as I left, encouraging me to return soon.
That night I dreamed that I did return — and was greeted warmly, like family, by the woman and her husband.
– – –
On a Saturday morning walk — needed to clear my head and settle my heart — I arrived at the perfect sun-soaked picnic table at precisely the same moment as a gentle-looking Mexican man in a Cal sweatshirt. We made eye contact, and silently agreed that yes, we could share this precious space. I got out my journal to write while he closed his eyes and laid down on the table’s bench.
Soon, the Filipino man who lives next door to the park and builds casitas, tiny wooden houses, emerged and introduced himself. He chatted with my new friend about everything — his favorite cities to visit in Mexico, his 7 chatty chickens, his job and his family. While the two neighbors talked, the Filipino’s pet beagle — Pinky — rotated between the three of us, getting an ear scratch and a pat at each interval.
When I got up to walk home, I realized that it was their unintentional company — those two men, one beagle, and 7 chickens — that had truly settled my heart, more than the fresh air or the journaling.
– – –
They seem like small things — “good mornings” from passers-by as I walk to the train in the morning, nods of greeting from fellow evening runners, a man I’ve never met paying for my morning coffee — but they have come as deep blessings into my life. In these days of rush and anxiety, I am grateful for this closeness with my human family.
How easily I can forget to reach out to people who pass into my days, to continue to offer my part of mutual love — for mutual love requires that each of us offer and receive.
I am grateful for the reminder that the kind of love we are called to is powerful, even when it is not dramatic. It is life-changing, even when it is unexpected. It is healing, even when it comes from the hands of strangers.