My Saturday was especially enchanting this week.
Timothy was busy in the garage all morning getting the motorcycle he’d rescued from a sedentary storage life road worthy again, so I ventured into our lovely little town on my own.
As is our Saturday custom, I searched for the less fortunate to see if there was anyone the Lord desired me to bless.
I like venturing out with Tim. He seems unafraid to strike up conversations with people and, in turn, gives me the vast courage of the uninhibited. But this – being on my own- is quite a different story. It takes me a while. An introvert who can quickly morph into the life of the party makes me a puzzling study in extremes. Puzzling to me at least.
It was truly a lovely day. We are in the middle of January here in Texas, and by noon temperatures were already in the 70’s as I pulled into the city park.
There were people out. Many and various at the basketball court, the tennis court, and down by the water. I am drawn to water, so naturally first headed toward the sparkling lake lapping into shore.
That’s when I saw the two native women walking together. One was about my age, the other probably in her 60’s or 70’s. They didn’t appear too well off. And I thought it was sweet to see them together. I could tell by their body language that they had a strong bond. I have been blessed with looking at people and immediately being flooded with dozens of impressions of the unseen. It happens to me all the time, always proves accurate, and in the Bible is called the gift of discernment.
These must be the ones, I reasoned. I had money in my pocket and today somebody was going to get it. I don’t always like to bless with cash. In fact, I prefer to buy people fruit and vegetables, help with an outstanding bill, put gas in someone’s car etc. But today I knew that I was supposed to actually give someone money. No judgements about how they might spend it. Just an unreserved giving. By now I trusted the Holy Spirit in me enough to know it was the thing to do. And so I followed, to do.
As I watched the two women approaching, their intensity with one another suddenly made me feel that any attempt to interrupt would be an intrusion. So I moved on. I walked back up toward the tennis courts with a tinge of guilt: Probably it was them I was supposed to give it to. And my shyness, my self protection, had just thwarted God’s work.
The family of four drew me in immediately. Why does this happen? Why is there an immediate Spirit of safety, familiarity, and comfort around some people, while with others there is not? So it was with this family. Mom and kindergarten girl on one side of the net, Dad and grade school boy on the other. Papa was so kind. Every attempt at a swing from his boy gained both praise and instruction. While Mama’s over-zealous swing careened far above her husband’s reaching racket. “Sorry Babe!” she offered politely. I wanted to stay. I just wanted to stay and watch. Soak them all in, and receive some of the joy. But honestly, I felt nosy and like I’d stick out like a sore thumb. That, of course, is the adult in me. It had taken years of conditioning to get this way. A child would have plopped down and stayed. The child in me wanted to stay.
But of course, I moved on, passed by some serious father-daughter one on one basketball finesse, then departed the park entirely, walked to another nearby outdoor recreational area, observed many people, started conversations with a few, but no one jumped out as my beneficiary that day. But I didn’t mind. The sun was glorious and I was alive with wonder on this beautiful day.
Once back in the truck, I headed to one final outdoor playland in hopes of finding someone to give the Lord’s money to. And lo and behold there were the two women I had first seen around noon. They were picnicking at one of the city-donated tables. And me, what did I do? Drove into the parking lot and drove right back out again. Just blew them off, like they weren’t even there. It didn’t make any sense. You can only imagine my self loathing.
I drove past a cool little place I’d never noticed before. I saw a sign that read, “The Helping Center.” The truck went into U turn mode and I was back in the Helping Center’s lot writing down information, their hours, their mission statement, “Ecumenical Christian Service in the name of Jesus Christ.” I liked that. How did they help, I wondered? And then I saw the gardens. Raised beds out back. Joy! We used to have a ministry in Washington state where we grew all of our own organic produce to give to the food bank. It was always my hope to teach the not-so-well-off how to grow their own food in their own back yards. So 10-12 & 1:30- 3:30 Mon- Fri next week would find me back again. Possibly, I could be of some help. Not a lost day after all.
Tim and I eat quite good (healthy). Lots of fruit and vegetables, fish, some turkey, and very rarely pork or red meat. Once a month, and once a month only, we go to McDonald’s for an oh my goodness chocolate dipped ice cream cone. We’d already gone this month. But I reasoned in my heart, that today was a special day. A Kath day. I had plans to go sit by my favorite river by a near by town. A far off river, secluded, still, and silent. Beautiful in the country, and my favorite place to go to meet God and have deep conversation with Him. A quick stop at McDonald’s first, would be the cherry on top of a perfect day.
I pulled into the parking lot and got in at the back of an enormous drive-through line. No, I wasn’t having that, so exited the line right into a parking space.
Once inside, I went to the counter to order my cone, and voilà, there she was! About my age. We talked about the glorious day. How she should be outdoors and not behind the counter, and is Texas always this warm in January? And yes it is, and how she knew all about my Northern winters, her being from Michigan. Her clothes were frayed. Her hair a flying mess. Her shoes barely holding together, dark circles under her eyes, and the sweetest disposition on the planet. You could just tell she was a hard worker, trying desperately to make ends meet. She really balled up my cone. It was lopsided and chocolate dripped more on the cone than it did the ice cream. I could see her frustration and embarrassment as she handed me the pathetic thing with profuse apology. We both roared with laughter.
I reached for her hand and simultaneously stuffed the money without a home into its rightful dwelling as her fingers curled around it, then said the words Jesus asked me to say,
“Hey hon, Jesus loves you today.”
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17