The evening was filled with plenty of laughter, mouth-watering Argentinian steak, and room made for dessert. This was the first time I’ve experienced a steak house that didn’t need to serve the meal with a steak knife…the meat was that tender. We shared side dishes of sweet potato chips, cooked spinach, and empanadas, while ordering our own desserts of cheesecake, chocolate cake, ice cream, and sticky toffee pudding. Needless to say, plates were wiped clean and everyone around the table was full. British culture has a tendency to never rush a meal, so it was completely normal to be asking for the check around 10pm. With stomachs and hearts happy, it was time to head back home.
Stepping outside into the cool, damp night, we headed down a side street to take a known short cut to our bus stop. Two steps down, and my lungs depleted as I noticed the man sitting to the side. With bags of rubbish he had collected from the back of the restaurant piled around him, I can only guess he was looking for a little food and a little warmth. We immediately made eye contact. Without my purse, holding my wallet and the extra granola bars I always carry, I had nothing material to offer him. I put my head down, and I continued to walk with my family. He continued to look through the trash.
There is this term I’ve learned as a psychology major. It explains every reason why the more people we are around, the less likely we are as an individual to step forward in a time of need. That night, I let cognitive dissonance win as I pretended to not notice the hurt and pain that was sitting to the side. I pretended to let the fact that I didn’t have any money or food equate to the lie that I couldn’t offer any kindness. I continued to walk with the generosity I was being handed, instead of stopping to offer some generosity to another.
I only pray that I keep being offered these chances of raw, gut-wrenching vulnerability. And that when I make mistakes, I can recognize God weeping with me and let the London rain storms wash over in a renewal of Baptism.
So tonight, I rest in the healing of grace.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.