I was sitting in my living room, people watching at about 8:00 this morning. Matt was making breakfast and I was watching a man with a shopping cart go through his morning routine. It looked like it was a routine... maybe it was the first time he'd done it, but he was very deliberate about everything - first he finished his cigarette, and in between drags he would spit carefully in the street and not on the sidewalk. Then he took a swig of water and washed his hands. There was a certain meticulousness about it that struck me. He was careful to dispose of his garbage in an extra plastic bag in his cart. He took out a jar with some powder and added it to the remaining water in his jug and mixed it. He emptied the jar of its contents, double checked for any left overs and then frustratedly disposed of the jar in his garbage bag.
As he drank, I couldn't help but compare his method I was witnessing to the sounds of Matt's own breakfast methods in the kitchen. They both went through their morning routines.
Our breakfast smelled good and, as my exploration and study on hospitality has encouraged, I thought it would be awesome to invite him over for whatever Matt was making. I went to check with Matt about my idea and he agreed.
But on our way out the front door we saw an older woman with a cane scooting past him. For whatever reason he turned and shoved her in the back so hard she screamed and fell forward, disappearing behind a tree.
We were shocked. For a full second neither of us moved, not believing we had just witnessed. Matt said later he thought his eyes had played a trick on him because the woman had seemed to disappear. We realized in retrospect that had we not been standing there at that moment no one would have seen her from the street.
We dashed across the road, one eye on the quickly departing man, as we approached the woman who was nearly sobbing and struggling to get up. To put it candidly, it would have taken her a while without our help.
"God bless you, thank you" she said, "I just said 'excuse me' as I walked by because his cart was sprawled over the side walk. I don't know why he would have gotten mad. The irony is, I've worked for five years with the homeless; in aid and what not."
Matt walked her to work as it was only a block away and she refused a ride.
How odd, I had to think to myself, that after watching this man and deliberating, I came to rest at a decision to invite him in. A co-worker pointed out the obvious "what ifs" to me later ("what if you HAD invited him in"), but what I had to marvel at was the fact that we were at our front door at just the right time because of those very same intentions. One set of hospitable intentions yielded an entirely unexpected good. The "what ifs" I consider now are "what if I had decided against inviting him in?" and "what if Matt had said 'let's not' and we'd simply sat down right there?" There would have been no one to help that woman to her feet.
Because of this, perhaps idealistic, conclusion I've come to, I do no think I will hesitate again to invite someone in.