It was noon on a Saturday. The air was frigid, in the 20’s. We came up underneath the bridge. There was no doorbell to ring or door to knock on. But we were at somebody’s home. We yelled hello. It was Tony and Melanie. We had met them before on several occasions. We had been here before. They were happy to see us and invited us in. For the first time I crawled all the way in, stepping over mattresses and logs that took up most of the four foot width of floor.
I was worried about freezing when we set out to visit them. I am not a cold weather person. I did not want to pull them away from their fire and the fire looked very inviting. I sat on a chair at first and then scooted over onto a log, so my friend could have the chair.
They had hung tarps that blocked them from the icy winds. So thankful for tarps on strings!
They offered us donuts. They smiled asking how I had been, saying they were wondering were I was, not having seen me for weeks. I was afraid if I had come around too much, well. . .I didn’t want to wear out my welcome. I didn’t want them to frown as they saw me coming up the path, thinking, “There’s THAT women again.” But they don’t. They were genuinely happy to see me, my husband and friend.
They were drinking coffee.
I saw their pantry was stocked with some canned goods
I bet by night time, that refrigerator becomes a freezer!
I asked about security systems for this home. Were they worried about someone coming in and stealing their stuff or hurting them? Melanie said without missing a beat, “I’ve got a machete here that says, ‘No!’ We all busted out laughing, not ever quite hearing a comeback like that one before.
We had such a lovely visit, talking about their life, what they want, telling me more about homelessness. Tony and Melanie are not a couple. They are just two who met at the bridge. They find friendship and companionship with one another. I'm sure it takes away some of the lonliness they would feel otherwise. When I met Tony last summer, he had gotten away from the Bible. He tells me this day he is reading it again. Melanie has her own Bible too and she tells me she knows for sure she knows where her eternal home is. She has Jesus in her heart. Melanie laughed saying they were probably the happiest homeless people we would ever meet. It’s not that they are happy being homeless, but for the time being, until things work out the way they want, this is the best home for them and they make the most of it. They are sweet, they have good attitudes. We talked, we laughed, we had a good time with each other.
When I got up to leave, I gave Tony a hug, and then Melanie. They both hugged me back hard, genuine. My husband said after we left, they needed that visit. They needed the company from ones who show unconditional love, who is willing to step into their home and visit as if nothing is out of the ordinary. They know it is, but there is no need to talk about it. Because home is not so much the interior as it is the people living there.
So what if there is no door, no window, no electricity, no amenities we take for granted. I realized after I left, that the whole time I was there, I was not once thinking about being cold. I had become rather warm. Part of it was because of the fire in front of me. But I think mostly it was because I was warmed by these precious people who allowed me to come into their home and gave them the opportunity to feel like regular folks, giving hospitality to guests.
We left a hospitality gift. . .two big boxes full of firewood for their "fireplace".
Tony said as I was crawling back out into the world on that little 4 foot wide concrete slab with the raging river below, "I'm so proud of you for coming all the way in."
Our host, Tony. . .
and our hostess, Melanie
I'm glad I went all the way in. It was truely a lovely visit . . .a vist I needed!
Good-bye for now but we'll be back
As I came back into my house, a home filled with furniture that collects dust, carpets that need vaccuming, hardwood floors that need sweeping, I pondered about the "home" that I had just come from, a place that have none of the things we take for granted. Things like furniture, indoor plumbing, appliances, heating and air. And yet, if Jesus were to walk into that home, would he be comfortable and welcomed? Yes, I believe He would. Because the occupants in that home would not have been worrying about dust and a meal to cook. Jesus would have had a donut to eat and coffee to drink and warm conversation. These people, people who others say are crazy, are not crazy at all. With all they have been through, they are people who are inviting, they smile and laugh and are welcoming, not once complaining and whining. We who have so much, can complain over the simplest of things.
I wonder if Jesus came to my door, would I quickly look around to see if my house was presentable? Would I worry about the dust on the coffee table or just offer him a warm cup of coffee? Would I worry the whole time about the carpet needing swept or would I just sit at his feet taking all of Him in? Would I find myself whining and complaining about small stuff or would I concentrate on warm and holy converstion with my guest? We know what He would want because He gave us the story of Mary and Martha. I have tended to be a Martha most of my life, always thinking things had to be be perfect, look perfect. I think I was the crazy one! Oh, I desired and tried to always make my guests feel welcomed, but I would always eye the cobweb hanging in the corner of my ceiling or see the dust on something. It's great getting older because now if I see the cobweb in my home as I'm visiting with someone, I think, "Who cares!" I've learned as I've matured that being Mary is more important and after leaving the bridge, I had to smile as I thought of the residents there. They were definetly a Mary and the home was not perfect in any way athestically, yet I felt welcomed and loved. Isn't that what Jesus would want?
Next time someone comes to my door, I will invite them in without looking around first. I will look at them and give them my whole attention, not sharing that attention with the cobweb. I'll enjoy their presence, their entire being. How about you? Let's leave our dust rag in the cabinet. And OH. . . we might want to leave our machetes under the bed.