taking hospitality to the streets

DublinOf all the days to not have brought my car into town for work! After 13 hours in city centre I was left carrying half a tray of uncovered cinnamon buns through inner-city streets at 10pm. There are plenty of people who might think this is a bad idea. You just never know how safe it is (I’ve never had a problem). As I walked down the hill from my church in the dark a group of rowdy teen lads from the area spotted my tray full of “cakes”. My initial reaction was … relief! I might not have to carry all these buns home with me!! Sure enough the tallest lad, towering over me, stopped about two feet away from me, reached his hand out and asked for one. “Absolutely!” I said to him. Pretty soon I was surrounded by a wall of lads each looking for a late night snack. Their faces transformed into innocent joy as sugar coated their hands:

“You have just made my night. No, seriously, you have.” “Wow, thanks!” “I love you!” “Did you make these?”

In that moment it felt like they had experienced ‘home’ – the space where you are loved for no reason at all and experience nothing except good things without having done a thing to deserve them.

My load lighter, I crossed the river and walked to the top of the hill to wait for my bus. Late night buses to my community don’t have a fantastic reputation either. I haven’t quite figured out why yet. It was only when the bus pulled up that I realise I didn’t have enough money on my bus card to get home. I smiled at the bus driver and offered him a cinnamon bun. He told me I had enough money to just get me home. The bus was quiet. A few young adults sat alone with their headphones in. The only exceptions were two men who were having a conversation across the aisle from each other. One reached out for a cinnamon bun with a question in his eyes. “Of course!” I said to him and then proceeded to offer cinnamon buns to the others on the bus. “Communication!” He exclaimed, “This is exactly what we had been talking about. No one communicates anymore. They all just look down at their phones the whole time.”

The lines across both these men’s faces told me they had lived more lifetimes than their years would allow. So we proceeded to talk about anything and everything. Soon another man and his son came on the bus. The skin on their faces draped over deep hollows. One of my new friends offered them my cinnamon buns, confident that this is what I would want. Finally we convinced the boy to have one. He shyly took one and slowly ate it while the rest of us shook hands and introduced ourselves. One of the men then asked if I was a teacher. “I teach a bit of sewing,” I said. He knew it, he could tell I was a teacher right away. As we got closer to my stop the other asked me if I was a preacher. “You could nearly call me that as well,” I said through a smile. “A sister?” he asked. “Not quite,” I responded. He was working away with something in his hands before extending it towards me. “I don’t have much to give you,” he explained as he handed me a small candle. Shaking their hands and blessing them I exited the bus near my house.

I think they met God last night – him in me. The reactions they had were the same I have when I mysteriously experience his Presence near me. There is a rightness, a letting go, a vulnerability, an accepting of kindness. I was humbled. A tray full of cinnamon buns and perfect love that doesn’t leave space for fear, such a small taste of heaven. These small offerings of hospitality are my fish and loaves. Miracles are made of such things.

4 thoughts on “taking hospitality to the streets

  1. Lovely post Liesel! Must have coffee together sometime I am currently wiped with an awful cold but hope to be back on my feet by the end of the week….. Maybe we can schedule coffee next week sometime? C

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