(As seen in CFW Event #11)
The bell above the door jangled as Alicia pulled it closed. She heaved a weary sigh, locked up, and turned to go. She stopped and inhaled a deep breath of cool night air. It felt good after being cooped up inside all day. She glanced up at the bleak, smog-blanketed sky of New York. If only she could go back to the sweet days of her childhood back in Montana. Before she’d lost her parents, before her husband abandoned her and their daughter, before all the heartache and weariness that burdened her soul like iron weights crushing the life out of her.
She watched a bag lady across the street slowly pushing a shopping cart down the rain-wet sidewalks.
Before moving to New York she used to think homelessness was avoidable. Then she’d seen the cold, hard truth of the real world and the heartlessness of the mass of humanity that crowded the city streets.
She glanced back at her café, her dream. She’d worked herself to the bone trying to keep it alive. If she only had more money, more time…but she didn’t. All she had was a one-room apartment downtown, a landlord threatening eviction, bank notices threatening foreclosure, and a two-year-old to keep safe and fed.
She closed her eyes as a solitary tear slipped down her cheek.
Dear God, help me. I’m about to lose everything and I don’t know what to do.
The gravelly voice startled her and she turned to see the bag lady standing before her.
“Could you spare a hot meal in exchange for one of these hand-knit scarves?” she asked holding up a sample from the cart.
Alicia looked at the earnest eyes in the dirty, wrinkled face. Something about the old woman touched her heart.
Alicia sighed and smiled, “Sure. Come on in.”
She unlocked the door and led the way inside. A few moments later, she sat across the table from the woman who called herself Thea and watched her devour a bowl of soup.
Thea asked about her life and, before she knew it, Alicia was pouring out her soul to this stranger she didn’t even know.
When she finished, she heaved a sigh and said, “I just don’t know what to do.”
Thea shook her head and smiled, “Don’t worry, honey; everything’ll work out just fine. You just gotta keep trustin’ the Lord. He’s got it all under control…even if we don’t.”
Alicia gave a small smile, “Thanks…I needed that.”
When they parted ways an hour later outside the café, Thea left her with the hand-knit scarf and shuffled down the sidewalk with her cart once again.
Alicia got in her car and set the scarf in the passenger’s seat, but as she did, an envelope fell out.
She frowned and picked it up, surprised to see her name written on the front.
She pulled out the letter inside and a check dropped in her lap. She gasped as she saw the amount—$10,000. Her eyes welled up with tears and she glanced at the letter.
There was only a scripture verse.
“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
She glanced up where Thea was, but saw no sign of the old woman anywhere.
She was gone.
Alicia broke down in tears, her hands trembled as they held the paper.
She glanced up and saw a single star shining bright in the dark sky.
She choked back a sob that came out half laughter and whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”
© Whitney L. Schwartz