In case you don’t know, Lee is a homeless man that I’ve become friends with over the last two weeks (I’ve sat with him three times), and on Friday, I invited him to have lunch with me on Monday, which was yesterday, and what an amazing time it was! It seems like it will be hard to put into words the wonderful lunch we had, but I will do my best to invite your heart to dance with mine.
As I was walking to the park to meet him, I thought about how important it was for me to keep my word. I told him I’d be there at 12:35 pm, so I was walking fast to make that happen. I wondered if he had broken promises in his life and if this would mend any open wounds. As I approached the area where we planned to meet, I noticed another man sitting with him. My first thought was to invite him to come along, but when I learned of why he was present, my heart melted.
On Friday, when I had asked Lee to lunch, he was concerned that wherever we ate wouldn’t accept him with his “luggage:” two carts with wheels, and on each cart are gym-type bags that are securely fastened. I told him that I didn’t think there would be a problem. Well, when I walked up to Lee and this other man, Mike, I learned that Mike was there to watch his bags, so Lee could enjoy a “normal” lunch.
The restaurant was a couple blocks away. As we walked there, we talked. He was encouraging me on a step of faith I have been praying about taking, and he just kept saying, “Go for it!” He’s excited to see what God’s going to do, when I take that step. We arrived at Pizzicato, ordered, filled our drinks, and sat outside. It was a beautiful day, and the air was filled with God’s Presence.
We started talking about canning your own food (I want to start doing that) and about how his mom and grandma would can. This simple conversation took him back to when he was a little boy. He was so excited to open that canned food. Vegetable soup was his favorite. We just chatted the whole time. The waitress kept coming out and checking on us. It was nice to see him being honored and respected.
I had brought him a couple of books for him to read that I read in college. I told him I had a bunch of God-books, if he wanted any of those. He chuckled…had never heard the term “God-books” used before. He began to speak about how he’s been studying different bibles alongside the King James Version. He wants to know why different religions fight. He’s trying to disprove something that he’s believed in, but he wouldn’t share that with me what that was (not “yet” anyway). For watching the bags, I offered to buy Mike food, so when we were done eating, we went back inside to pick up the pizza we had ordered for him.
While we were refilling our drinks to go, the waitress came up to us and said, “So, what are your plans for the rest of the afternoon…anything fun?” I replied that I was heading back to work, and Lee replied about the beautiful weather. Lee and I said our good-byes to each other, hugged inside, hugged outside, and went our separate ways.
As I was walking back to work, I thought about IF Lee HAD had his “luggage,” would the waitress have shown so much interest in him and his day? I wondered how being “normal” had felt for Lee and how being homeless must feel. As I began to cry (because I wished I could do more), I remembered one thing that Lee had said to me right before we departed. He said, “Now, next time, I don’t want you to bring me anything. I just want you to visit with me and show me your flags. That’s it. I don’t want you to give me anything.” I agreed.
Lee doesn’t want pity. He doesn’t want money (although, it helps). He wants a friend. He wants time. I told him that I would try to get the group to come out and worship with him. He’s really excited for when that’s going to happen. Time, friendship, laughter…THAT’s the more I can do for him. What a blessing it is to love others and to be love for them!