Matthew 25:35 English Standard Version (ESV) 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
It was Senior Day at our regional fair today. I have set up a table at this event for several years. Non profit groups or other programs that serve seniors are allowed to share information about their services. Seniors are allowed to attend the fair free or for a reduced price.
It is always an interesting day. Seniors will pick up anything and everything that is free. They will carry two or three bags provided by different groups and gather up items like squirrels storing away nuts for the winter. They go home with pill containers, pens, health information, candy, calendars, and anything else with a group’s name imprinted on it. I once left my person coffee mug on the table and someone took it.
I love talking to the many of the people. They love to tell stories about life or grand-kids. Many live at or below poverty level. Some are disabled and accompanied by caretakers. As I get older I wonder which faces will someday be mine. I wonder if I will be the lonely woman looking down at the ground as she walks or if I will be one of lovely older women with the purple hats smiling in the face of their declining years.
I leave my table and walk the fair grounds. I watch a couple walking hand in hand. It appears that those hands have been together over many years. Those hands now give comfort and support as they slowly make their way around the grounds. I hear grandparents talking the grandchildren they are now raising. My heart goes out to them as I imagine the pain and joy in that task.
I take advantage of the time and head to my favorite guilty pleasure-the fried cookie dough or fried Oreo cookies. I deserve a sinful treat. After all, I had worked all morning and it is the fair. I decide on the fried cookie dough and bashfully place my order. The man behind the counter says, “There is no charge for this today. A gentleman was here a few minutes ago and bought something. He left money and told me to pay for the next person who came to the booth. It is your lucky day. He just said to be sure to tell you to have a blessed day and pass it on.”
I was stunned. I have read stories on facebook from time to time of people doing random acts like this, but honestly thought they were more urban legend than reality. I took my gift and walked to a spot in the sun to enjoy it. It tasted even better than I imagined, perhaps because of the generosity of this individual.
I don’t believe Jesus was telling us to buy folks such delightful things as fried cookie dough. I imagine He was telling us something more important. It isn’t about the gift but the act of kindness. I may have had a few moments of bliss while eating my fried cookie dough, but the spirit of that gift has been with me all day. If something as trivial as a treat at the fair can bring me such a blessing, I wonder what it would mean to provide a meal for a family at Thanksgiving this year or take some food to senior center or homeless shelter?
I wonder what a smile or kind word would mean to someone who really needed one? I wonder what it would mean to an older person living out their last years alone in nursing home to have someone visit? I wonder what it would mean to provide a gift to a child who won’t have any this Christmas?
I thought about the gentleman that gave a few dollars for my treat today. I hope he knows that the simple fried cookie dough treat fed much more than my body today. It lifted my spirit and made me smile. It made think about how I might be able to share with someone else. I hope he feels as blessed as I do.