Driving out of the Target parking lot, our trunk was full of last minute stocking-stuffers, Starbucks coffees in our hands. Our hearts were full, smiles on our faces. We’d managed to squeeze a date in by buying the cheapest possible coffees and holding hands while shopping in the candy and make up aisles. It was much needed relaxed time together as life has held some big stresses and big decisions lately.
Rounding the corner out of the parking lot and towards the road we passed the homeless curb, where there is almost always someone standing, holding up a sign and a wary smile. We only help when we feel that inner urge, that compulsion. Today, both of us simultaneously reached for our wallets as we passed the older man patiently holding his cardboard. With people honking behind us we turned right and pulled over so that I could jump out and give him some money.
I approached him from behind and noticed his backpack hanging neatly from a tree. His cane and the one leg he favored. His age, definitely up around seventy. As I often do with older men, particularly those less advantaged, I used the term “sir” as I handed him some money with a smile and a “merry Christmas.” His worn hands reached out to grasp mine and he softly replied with a heartfelt thank you, staring softly but intently into my eyes. And then our momentary contact was over and I was walking back towards my car. Inexplicably, in tears.
“Why am I crying?” I asked God. I felt something sacred but I wasn’t sure what. Immediately an old verse popped into my head, one I hadn’t thought of in ages . . . . I just remembered the words “by doing so some have entertained strangers, unawares.”
He was an angel. I knew it in that moment with great certainty thought I did not turn around to see if he was still there, or even feel the need to wonder if he had disappeared. I simply knew that I had just touched heaven and the heart of God. The gift I gave was not about the money but about the opportunity. An opportunity to lay my head up against His heartbeat, and remember what home feels like. An opportunity to stare into a strangers eyes and see Heaven.
Best part of my week, for sure. Encounters are everywhere. Grateful.