We were in Tulsa for the weekend. A mini-getaway in one of our most beloved cities. As we sat in the cafe, impatiently tapping our feet and watching the clock, they were settling themselves outside on the hard pavement. The rain had been falling for a day, maybe more. We had been safe, sheltered. Umbrellas over head. Tourists with a cozy hotel room and anything we could want right there to be purchased. They had probably gotten wet. So, there we sat, quietly grumbling about whether to get a refund and leave or keep waiting. We had placed our fairly simple sandwich order almost an hour earlier. What the hell was taking so long? It was just sandwiches! The cafe wasn’t even that busy.
I came back from the restroom, to find her waiting, happily, with our to-go order in hand. I took mine and we sighed as we finally stepped out into the Oklahoma sunshine. We knew that we would have to stop before reaching the concert venue and eat, as we were sure our food wouldn’t be permitted to enter with us…
As we shuffled down the sidewalk, I saw them. A couple around our age, sitting off to the side, on a concrete ledge in an empty lot. We had spent the past 24 hours or so in throngs of people so they didn’t stand out to us. But, the cardboard sign at their dirty feet did. The only words I vividly remember reading are “disabled veteran and his wife” and “hunngry”. It was the misspelled word that grabbed at my still sorta pissed-off spirit.
With a gentle nudge I asked her “hey, you wanna share with them?” She hadn’t even seen them yet. “Okay.” was all she said. We stepped out of the line of fans making their way to the venue and as we approached they glanced up from where they sat, talking quietly to themselves. “Can we sit with you guys?” “Okay” was all they said.
We sat and pulled our sandwiches from their oversized brown paper wrappings. Would you believe me if I told you that not only was the paper large enough to tear into plates for each of us…but the sandwiches were also very large, big enough to be split amongst 4 people in fact. Plenty to share, and also each one already perfectly cut into 2 pieces.
“His teeth are stronger then mine…mine ain’t in good shape no more.” She said, her eyes wide at the sight of the food. So she was given the softer offering. Before he took even a nibble, he bowed his head. He bowed his head and gave the most genuine thanks- lips forming words that we couldn’t hear, but we didn’t need to hear them with our ears. He then raised his head to the heavens and with eyes closed, he smiled and nodded. I felt ashamed, but not for him and not for the people streaming past us, avoiding eye contact. I felt ashamed for the fact that I, a church-attending, bible-reading believer had forgotten so show gratitude for the meal that I had oh-so-impatiently waited a whopping 40 minutes for. I couldn’t bear to ask how long they had waited for it. We made small talk, ate in peace.
We left them with the chips, the bonus cookies. We shook hands as they, again, gave us thanks. I looked deep into his weary eyes, tried to see right down into he soul. His name was Josh, but I didn’t hear hers. I’ve thought of them nearly every day since. I don’t share this story for kudos or a pat on the back…I share it for my own heart. As a reminder.
The next day, while strolling through an art festival, this simple piece found me, and well…yes. May I always remember that I have been abundantly blessed and those blessings are to be shared. Also, that the Lord’s timing really is always exact. No matter how many times I tap my foot or check the clock.