Excuse me, mam! Excuse me! I slowly raised my head out of the cardboard box that I was digging through in my garage hoping that I was only imagining the voice I heard calling. My whole day was planned. My schedule was packed and there was no margin for any type of interruption. I reluctantly turned around to face the street. Standing at the end of the driveway about 25 yards away was a tall, middle-aged woman holding the handle bars to her bicycle along with two shopping bags. She was looking directly at me as she continued to motion with her hand wanting me to come closer.
We moved about two months ago from my once small hometown, Katy, Texas to inner city Houston known as The Heights. Our new neighborhood is located one mile north of Interstate 10, one mile east of the 610 loop, and one mile west of Interstate 45. In Katy, Bill and I lived in the heart of the city and thought that we lived among diverse people. However, moving to The Heights has taken my definition of diversity to a whole new level. The first week in our new home, reality hit as one night, I heard the strange clinking of something rolling down the street. I ran to the window and passing by our house, illuminated only by the streetlights was a man pushing a grocery cart with what appeared to be his personal belongings. I have since observed that our street is his regular route from point A to point B and back to point A at night. He never slows but keeps a steady pace, putting one large foot in front of the other as though he is on mission. I have also learned that the neighbors refer to him only as “The Commuter”. The neighbors are content to leave him be every evening during his commute. I, on the other hand, wish to learn his real name and his story…
“Mam, my name is Marva.” The clean, neatly dressed woman continued. “I have three young children. “ “We haven’t had any gas to heat our house since before Christmas.” “Rats are biting my children at night and our house is infested with roaches.” “Will you please help me?” Marva took and deep breath, hung her head, looking to the ground and said, “Mam, could you please spare something to eat?” “I’ll eat anything. “ “Please, Mam, I’m so hungry.” My mind could not grasp all that she was trying to tell me in her desperation. I tried to sort out what I was hearing with compassion, thinking of this poor woman begging to feed her children and keep them warm while at the same time, I was fighting the urge to run into my house, lock the door, draw the curtains, and pull the covers over my head!
Matthew 25:35 reads: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I knew in my heart the right thing for me to do at that moment was to invite Marva to park her bicycle on the sidewalk and help her carry her bags up the steps onto the front porch of my house. I pulled a chair around and asked her to sit down. Once again, she reminded me that she was hungry so I excused myself and went inside in search of something substantial. After a few minutes of going in and out of the house visiting with her and cooking, I emerged with a bacon and egg sandwich and a bottle of cold water. She was delighted! As she ate, I probed her about her faith in God to which she admitted that where she comes from, in order to survive, she has to have faith in God. Gnawing on a piece of bacon with her yellowed broken teeth, she gave a half grin and assured me that God does provide.
Marva and I enjoyed our time together as we closed the gap this day on the hungry and the well fed. Together we held our heads high in diversity as we sat, soaking up the sunshine, both counting our blessings for God’s interruption of schedule and provision of food.