Tea for Two
This showed up in my eMail recently (from E-Mail Ministry) and it struck a chord with me. Please let me share it with you over a cup of tea. This morning it's Wild Blueberry.
I try to live with this perspective in my heart and mind.
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It was fifty years ago, on a hot summer day, in the deep south. We lived on
a dirt road, on a sand lot. We were, what was known as "dirt poor". I had
been playing outside all morning in the sand.
Suddenly, I heard a sharp clanking sound behind me and looking over my
shoulder, my eyes were drawn to a strange sight! Across the dirt road were
two rows of men, dressed in black and white, striped, baggy uniforms. Their
faces were covered with dust and sweat. They looked so weary, and they were
chained together with huge, black, iron chains. Hanging from the end of each
chained row was a big, black, iron ball.
They were, as polite people said in those days, a "Chain Gang," guarded by
two, heavily armed, white guards. I stared at the prisoners as they settled
uncomfortably down in the dirt, under the shade of some straggly trees. One
of the guards walked towards me. Nodding as he passed, he went up to our
front door and knocked. My mother appeared at the door, and I heard the
guard ask if he could have permission to get water from the pump, in the
backyard, so that "his men" could "have a drink". My mother agreed, but I
saw a look of concern on her face, as she called me inside.
I stared through the window as each prisoner was unchained from the line, to
hobble over to the pump and drink his fill from a small tin cup, while a
guard watched vigilantly. It wasn't long before they were all chained back
up again, with prisoners and guards retreating into the shade, away from an
unrelenting sun. I heard my mother call me into the kitchen, and I entered,
to see her bustling around with tins of tuna fish, mayonnaise, our last loaf
of bread, and two, big, pitchers of lemonade. In what seemed "a blink of an
eye", she had made a tray of sandwiches using all the tuna we were to have
had for that night's supper.
My mother was smiling as she handed me one of the pitchers of lemonade,
cautioning me to carry it "carefully" and to "not spill a drop." Then,
lifting the tray in one hand and holding a pitcher in her other hand, she
marched me to the door, deftly opening it with her foot, and trotted me
across the street. She approached the guards, flashing them with a brilliant
smile. "We had some leftovers from lunch," she said, "and I was wondering if
we could share with you and your men." She smiled at each of the men,
searching their dark eyes with her own eyes of "robin's egg blue." Everyone
started to their feet. "Oh no!" she said. "Stay where you are! I'll just
serve you!" Calling me to her side, she went from guard to guard, then from
prisoner to prisoner, filling each tin cup with lemonade, and giving each
man a sandwich.
It was very quiet, except for a "thank you, ma'am," and the clanking of the
chains. Very soon we were at the end of the line, my mother's eyes softly
scanning each face. The last prisoner was a big man, his dark skin pouring
with sweat, and streaked with dust. Suddenly, his face broke into a
wonderful smile, as he looked up into my mother's eyes, and he said, "Ma'am,
I've wondered all my life if I'd ever see an angel, and now I have! Thank
you!" Again, my mother's smile took in the whole group. "You're all
welcome!" she said. "God bless you." Then we walked across to the house,
with empty tray and pitchers, and back inside.
Soon, the men moved on, and I never saw them again. The only explanation my
mother ever gave me, for that strange and wonderful day, was that I
"remember, always, to entertain strangers, for by doing so, you may
entertain angels, without knowing."
Then, with a mysterious smile, she went about the rest of the day. I don't
remember what we ate for supper, that night. I just know it was served by an
-- Author Unknown
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