People say we travel a lot. I guess that's true. Today I am in Fairfax Virginia. On Wednesday I'll be in Connecticut. Thursday I'll be in New Jersey. Back home in Tennessee on Sunday. This fall I've been to both coasts seeing the Empire state and the Golden Gate bridge in the span of one week. I've been to Florida and Atlanta twice. Are you tired? I'm not. I love it. I think it is the Viking in me.
I love to meet people. I got to know the wife of one of my husband's colleagues. We talked and shopped til we dropped in San Francisco. It was a wonderful day. I hope I see her again. I think we'd be good friends.
Last night, as we exhaustedly checked into our hotel, I met someone new. I guess a five minute conversation doesn't really qualify as meeting someone but he will stay in my thoughts for a long time. No I haven't become star struck rather the mother instinct took hold. Tall, thin, blonde,with an infectious smile, dressed in a red bellman jacket, he quickly grabbed my bags. All were loaded on the luggage rack in seconds. It was Christmas. A good tip was a must.
Cheap, we usually take care of our own bags. I got change before we left. Five seemed an appropriate tip. The smile and the Merry Christmas after a long day was worth at least that.
He told us he was from Russia. Beaming he told us that he lived near by, was here as an intern for a year. With great pride he said he rode his bicycle to work. With some lament he share this was his first Christmas without snow. To him the weather was spring like. I smiled. I wanted to give him Christmas cookies and adopt him.
My husband and I chatted about how nice the young man was; we hoped his stay here would be pleasant. We hoped he wouldn't be beaten up by life too badly and that his excitement for life will not diminish.
As we wound down the day, sitting on the couch, we stumbled on the documentary Strangers No More about a school in Tel-Aviv for refugees. Lovingly children of every color were taught Hebrew and helped to overcome the trials and horrors that their young lives had already known. Children who watched a parent killed, thrust into a new land, a new culture, we're being transformed by love and acceptance into children with hope and laughter. In awe I watched a young Jewish teacher embrace like a mother a tall black Sudanese boy named Mohammed. The boy told his teacher that she was his mother. There were no barriers to love. There were color differences, religious differences and all manner of cultural barriers but humanity and love overcame them all.
A teacher, a Jew, said she was living the Bible. God had called them, selected them, to be a special people. She had no choice but to love and care for these children. She said as a Jew she must remember when her people were refugees, slaves, or in exile. Her words were the most eloquent Christmas sermon.
I thought of Jesus. I thought of the young woman and her husband, exhausted travelers on a night in Bethlehem. Born during Roman occupation and oppression, my Savior and Lord was born a refugee. Jesus told us to receive the outcast. Perhaps that is the message of Christmas. Perhaps that is how we will have Peace on Earth - one smile, one hug, and loving acceptance. I think I will find the young Russian and practice Peace with a smile and a tin of cookies.
The next night I did deliver a tin of cookies. It was good for my soul