Thou Shalt Not Judge
Surprise birthday parties are always fun.
Recently we attended one for Bill Shockley. Bill was 39 one more time. The party was really a big surprise to him.
The party was held on a Saturday at the United Methodist Church here in New Martinsville. Bill’s children and wife Pam had put this surprise event together. Bill thought he was going to a craft show at the church.
The invited guests’ cars nearly filled the side parking lot. We were visiting together and eating good food.
Suddenly the door opened and a man entered the room. He had an expression on his face not exactly of fear, but definitely one of anticipation. Everyone kind of had a shocked look on their faces and in their eyes.
The man just stood there for a time, looking at the quests. Pam Shockley walked over to him. We watched with anticipation as the conversation continued for a few minutes before Pam said to us the man did not have transportation or a place to stay.
He apparently told Pam he had his family with him. According to the man, his car had broken down along the highway. Apparently they noticed the cars in the parking lot at the church, perhaps thinking they might find help.
The guests at the party sat quietly for a few minutes as the man went back outside to return with two women. The three people entered the room in a manner that is rather hard to describe. A look of fear, weariness, and obviously they felt cold. They had not yet felt the love and caring that was in that big room.
The three people seated themselves at the back of the room at a corner table that was not being used.
One of the guests at the party began taking them warm pizza and a soda or warm coffee.
The other guests at the party remained rather hushed. I looked at their faces for a few moments. Almost at once a look of concern, but with a kindness, appeared on most faces. People of all ages were in attendance at this party. The young people appeared to be as intensely concerned as the older people, if not more so.
The strangers ate vigorously with that look that a deer has in your headlights. Their clothing, faces, and hands were that of people who had not had a shelter for some time.
Pam returned to the room, announcing she had called the minister of their church. He would come as soon as he could to see what he could do to help.
During this time, I went over to the table to speak to these strangers. I gave the older woman a hug. She quietly said, “God bless you”. The look of appreciation came over her tired looking face. The eyes of the other two did not leave their plates. As I walked back to my seat I again realized how blessed I was.
A collection of money just suddenly started happening. I think almost everyone in that room gave what money they could.
The minister of the church arrived shortly. He went immediately to the table of the three strangers. We did not hear what he was saying, but did see him talking and giving them a piece of paper. He then left quietly without saying anything to the birthday guests.
The expressions of the three faces changed. A look of comfort or relief came over them.
They soon got up to leave, pausing at the door, as the man looked at all of us saying, “Thank you good people. May God bless you all.” They departed quietly.
Again for a few minutes a silence fell over the room. I am sure we were all looking into our hearts. It was a beautiful scenario. No questions asked; no judgments made. It was an outpouring of love for our fellow man.
We will probably never know who they were, where they had come from, or where they went.
The beautiful part was we did know that we had not made a judgmental decision except one that we wanted to help our fellow travelers. That help was so obviously given with love and concern.