I made a chicken stew and a loaf of bread to take to Granny and Buck yesterday for lunch. As I noodled my way out of the apartment building door, a gentleman followed. He appeared Middle Eastern by descent and accent, but I'm not all that good at discerning which region, and I'm pretty sure that degree of discrimination is not all that important, at least not here. He was carrying a bag, and in the bag, I was to learn, he had a roasted chicken. He was talking to himself, and I picked up on the conversation as he started going on about arriving too early, that he should have waited until 1.
With my iron pot full on chicken stew in my left hand and the lighter loaf of bread in the right (so as to not trigger Grandpa's tennis elbow), I had paused to get my bearings, breathe the late morning air, and let my eyes adjust to the brighter light of day. I really do need to get out more.
The fellow stepped to my side to bid me a good morning, but I wasn't expecting him, and I missed part of his brief story. Okay, I was hoping to ostracize the man so I could be left in peace this Sunday morning. That was not to work. His was a gentle soul, and he asked if I had a microwave he could use to heat his chicken. I said I did, but that I was headed to my mother's house with lunch. He said God would bless me for taking care of my mother, and that his chicken only needed a couple of minutes in the microwave. After a few moments, I acquiesced. Mama and Buck's preacher would probably go overtime again anyway. He often does.
The man accompanied me to my apartment, and we shared a little halting small talk. He had the deep vibrato of a wizened Egyptian though he was only inches over five feet. His English was accented and a little clipped, leaving me to remember to avoid contractions and peculiar words. However, I really doubt my stereotypical reaction to ESL was warranted on this occasion. I suspect his English was really better than mine. In the elevator, he wanted to know about my mother. Where she lived. How old she was. Her health. He shook his head knowingly as I described her. He was not set aback as I told him that we really do not know how old she is because she has no birth certificate, and no record of her birth was made by the family.
I left my pot of stew and bag of bread in the hallway so I'd have a free hand to open the door. We entered the apartment, and put his chicken in the microwave after some brief discussion of whether or not the bag was microwaveable. It was. I punched in two minutes, as he began to tell me of the bakery that he apparently owns with his family. Shortly, I knew exactly where it was, though I've never been inside. I didn't want to tell him that his driveway was just too treacherous at that busy intersection. Perhaps I'll walk over one day.
He encouraged me to visit and get some baklava, which I do enjoy, and then he said that I should not deprive myself of good foods like that just because they might make me fat. Where did that come from? And he said it with the "just because." I resisted telling him how I used to put Lily in the backpack carrier so we could go to the mall for sticky buns. Every night. Washing them down with cold, whole, sweet milk. I still miss those trips.
The microwave sounded its alarm, he took the chicken, felt it, declared it warmed, and thanked me. We left the apartment, chatted on the ride down in the elevator, and exited the building. I bid him adieu, and he returned the farewell, reminding me that God would bless me.
Maybe I should have bought another lottery ticket that afternoon.
Hebrews 13:2 - Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.