I was backpacking in Europe, more particularly in the beautiful and luxurious island of Capri off the coast of Italy. My friend and I had been on the road for a couple of months. I was wearing the only shirt I’d brought, a skirt that had started to fade from the sun, a baseball cap, and running shoes. I figured I would not see anyone I knew in Europe, so I decided to be comfortable rather than fashionable. I was carrying a big backpack.
It so happened we were walking through a luxurious residential area, with walled gardens and expensive homes, when suddenly the traveller’s sickness struck. If you have travelled a lot, you know what traveller’s sickness is. It means you have to go to the bathroom very very quickly. There was no time for me to walk the 30 minutes back to the public washrooms in the square. There were no public buildings in this area, and no trees behind which I could find some privacy. I was desperate.
I gave my pack to my friend and went and knocked on a door. I tried to explain with sign language and some elementary English what it was I was needing. The woman who answered looked at me suspiciously. All I could do was stand there and look needy. She opened the door, and let me in. All I could say was “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.
As Christians, our stance as “giving people” comes from our experience of being given a break. God gave us the gift of Jesus, when we were most needy. We have experienced the kindness of others so often. And so we also give to others, even strangers. It’s not enough to just think nice thoughts about strangers, but we have to actually show that in concrete ways. How might God be calling you to extend kindness to a stranger this week?
This week’s prayer: Thank you for the gifts you have given me. Help me to be a giving person, not just to those I love, but to strangers as well. Amen