Wednesday, July 6, 2016
The 14th person
Back in December, my family took an evening and went Christmas caroling to some people. One of those people was a lady who is probably in her late 60's or early 70's named Judy. My sisters and nieces work with this very nice lady who was widowed two years ago. She had no children of her own, and her late husband's children don't come around much, so she is usually alone. She had to work until 2 pm on July 4, and my sister felt like she should ask her to join us at my sister's house. We were gathering at 4:00, so there was plenty of time. Judy arrived a little before food, bringing a large bowl of fruit and several apologies for intruding on our day. We assured her she was not intruding, and welcomed her into our celebration.
As the kids set off firecrackers and other loud and smoky fireworks, we adults watched my brother-in-law grill food on two grills, and chatted with Judy. When we ate, I urged her into line as she was hanging back, and more than one of us asked her if she wanted anything else and urged her to help herself.
After we ate, the music began. As my nephews and youngest niece hit the swimming pool, some of us hit the instruments. My brother-in-law Paul was at the electric piano, I was playing the regular piano, and my oldest two nieces were on the flute and violin. Judy commented several times how talented our family was and how wonderful the music was, occasionally asking us if we could play a certain song. My mom and sisters saw her wiping tears away a few times as she enjoyed our music.
She left to go home around 7, thanking us all again for including her. We thanked her for coming and assured her she was welcome and not an intrusion. I later told my sister it was a good call inviting her. We all knew she would have spent the afternoon and evening alone with no cookout and no company.
But how many Judys are in our lives? How many people cross our paths who are alone, who spend not just most or all holidays alone; but most every other day of the year alone? And what are we willing to do about it? My family included a lady most of us don't know well in our July 4th celebration. It didn't put us out at all. She was easy to talk to and we had plenty of food..... but how much are we willing to inconvenience ourselves and make room in our busy lives to be there for someone.
We are surrounded by hurting and lonely people. What if we Christians reached out more to such people, and if there is no one in our lives we can think of who might fit that.... pray that God would send someone into our lives for us to befriend and be there for in some capacity. Only God knows how many people are out there waiting for someone to show them they care.