Lent: Real Hospitality

imageI was feeling like a Lenten success on Thursday after spending 3 hours of my morning in the Illinois DMV in downntown Chicago.  I was perky in spite of the wait.  I was corgial in spite of the difficulties in registering a car owned by someone in NY but driven by someone in VA (long story.)  And I felt authentically grateful for the staff who have a boring job – at least until they met me with the car involving two states that are not Illinois.

So, on my way to work with license plates in hand, I saw a man standing by the Daley Center with a sign that said, “Hungry.  Just Hungry” and this happened next:

Perky Lenten Me:  I’m headed down to Starbucks for coffee and a sandwich. Would you like to come with me?

Guy with “Hungry” Sign:  I don’t really like Starbucks but thanks anyway.

I was such a Lenten success that morning that I was not in any way angry about his response.  In fact I felt great about my light-hearted attitude and the fact that he could have had a delicious breakfast sandwich and a latte but he chose not to do so.

But then it hit me:  Who was this offer for?  Me or GWHS?

Maybe coffee makes him sick and he doesn’t realize that you can also get tea and water and juice and hot cocoa in a Starbucks.  Maybe he didn’t want to go inside a building with a stranger.  Here’s what I should have said:

“Where would you like to go for something to eat?  I’ll take you.”

I’m a believer in relational ministry which means that I would not only like to give you money, but I’d like to have a relationship with you.  It’s more time consuming, but it feels more Christ-like to me.

Maybe he still would have said, “No, lady, I just want some cash.”

Maybe he wasn’t even hungry but he works for one of those scam groups who stick people out on the street corner and then come by to get their money later.

Or maybe he didn’t like Starbucks.  Only God knows, but next time I’ll try Plan B.

2 responses to “Lent: Real Hospitality

  1. Didn’t you once write about there being grace for cons and for suckers? Thank you for that and for this…


  2. Just noticed this post, and my Lenten experience was at the McDonalds on State St where a guy sitting outside was saying, “I’m hungry, how about a #7 with extra cheese….” We didn’t talk as I went in to grab my own dinner, but the specificity of his request made it easily roll off my tongue as I was ordering. I got it in a separate bag, handed it to him on the way out (announcing the order, like the cashier had done for me), and accepted his thanks without breaking stride…because I think part of what makes the offer “for me” is when I require a social interaction as my “payment” for giving charity.


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