by Pam Hardenbrook
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2
Sally was making a trip from Idaho to Georgia to see her son receive an honor for his Marine Corps service. It was in the mid-1960s and she had never traveled in the southeast—and she had never met a black person.
It was the second or third day of the trip when a young, very pregnant black woman and two small boys boarded, and it was all the young mother could do to manage the children and their belongings. Having been in similar circumstances when her own brood was young, Sally jumped in to help and got them settled near herself.
Sally chatted with the woman, helped entertain the children, and shared her snacks. Near lunchtime, the train stopped for awhile for some passengers to transfer to another train. Sally helped her new friends disembark and fetched their food from the depot lunch counter. The young family was taking another train from there, so Sally hugged them, and said good-bye. She never saw them again.
When Sally re-boarded, the atmosphere was changed. Other passengers, all of them white, were aloof, if not rude to her. But the train employees, who were black, treated her with extra kindness. Later, Sally went to the dining car. Careful not to overspend, she ordered a sandwich and coffee. When her meal arrived, it included much more than she ordered, plus a piece of pie. “Compliments,” said the dark-skinned waiter.
When Sally arrived at her destination, a porter gathered her bags and escorted her off the train to her waiting son. He simply said, “All of us thanks you for your kindness to that family. God bless you, Ma’am.”
Jesus’s parents took at least two long trips—once while expecting and once with the young Child. I wonder if there was someone like Sally to help them. I wonder if that person had any idea who the family was.
Heavenly Father, at this Lenten Season, open my eyes to those whom I can touch with kindness, grace, and love. Amen.