Entertaining A Stranger – Part I

dinner

Hebrews 13:2

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

She left her small southern hometown 10 months ago.  No one knew her story here in her new town…she had no desire to meet anyone…she wasn’t ready. She was an anomaly and that was just fine with her.  Then one morning an acquaintance at work engaged her in the break room.  She invited Samantha to church with her.  Samantha politely declined…the last thing she needed was to hang out with a bunch of pompous do-gooders.  If they knew the truth about her, they would want nothing to do with her anyway….
 
Week after week the woman continued to ask her, and she always said no.  Then one morning, after a fitful night’s sleep she decided to go.  Samantha snuck into the back of the sanctuary and listened quietly. What she heard troubled her.  Something familiar began to stir inside her, she thought of her childhood. As she was leaving the church, the work friend saw her.  “Samantha, so glad you came, what did you think?” 
 
A little unnerved at being “caught” there, she blankly stared at the woman and said, “Oh, hi….uh it was nice.”
 
The friend laughed nervously and said, “You know a bunch of us singles meet every few weeks for dinner at each other’s houses, we call it the dinner club, would you like to come?  We are meeting tonight.”
 
Samantha wasn’t sure what to say, she was not in a social mood, but she also didn’t want to go back to her house.  The walls had been pressing in on her.  Her nightmares were haunting her night and day now. Her friend pressed, and finally she relented.  Now three months later, it was a regular thing and Samantha found it her turn to host the dinner club that evening.   Never mind that she could barely boil water, now she was going to have to cook for them. She was dreading it.
 
“What have I done?” she asked herself as she slammed the car door and sped toward the grocery store.  “What am I supposed to cook?” she wondered aloud.
Hurriedly grabbing wine, pasta, bread, salad makings, and red sauce off the grocer’s shelves was about all she could manage. On the drive home, she went through her mental rolodex considering who she might call for help.
 
As Samantha slammed through the back door, she grabbed her phone while unloading the food.  She would call her best friend from college – a total foodie!  Francesca would know what to do.  Never mind that her time zone was 7 hours ahead, Samantha needed help.  That was more important!
 
She called her cell and luckily her friend answered.  “Chessie, oh dear girl.  Thank goodness you answered. I need your help….please!”
 
“Samantha what’s wrong? It’s nearly 10 pm here, are you ok?” Francesca asked worried.
 
Sam put on her best southern gal sweet talk and explained her predicament.
Samantha was just being Samantha…single-minded, self-absorbed to the last. Francesca sighed; well she remembered the night their sorority had made dinner for their dance dates…what a mess that was…and Samantha was no help whatsoever.
 
“Ok Sam, here is what you do… first you need to blanch your tomatoes in hot water.   Did you buy pomodoro tomatoes? If you don’t have time, you can just cut them up and sauté them too…
 
“What are you taking about Chessie?” she wailed.  “I just bought a jar of Ragu!”
 
“Ragu?” her friend yelped.  “Oh no, you are kidding.  Nasty stuff….”
 
Samantha crumpled.  “What?  I didn’t know, what I do now?” she whined.
 
Francesca realized she had freaked her friend out and said a little quieter….”Ok, don’t worry.  Do have any canned tomatoes….?”
 
For nearly two hours, her friend gave her culinary advice as she calmed Samantha’s frantic nerves. Chessie talked her through “fixing” the sauce, making crunchy garlic bread, a simple salad and even setting the table.  It was midnight for Francesca when she they finally hung up.
 
Samantha poured herself a glass of the dinner wine and was just heading upstairs to change when the doorbell rang.
 
“What?  They are 30 minutes early…?” she muttered.  She ran down the stairs, glass in hand and flung open the door to a stranger.  Before her stood a man, disheveled and tired looking.  His clothes were a bit natty, and though his black coloured eyes reflected kindness, his hands had the look of hard work, perhaps someone who worked on a construction crew.  
 
Annoyed, she said to him, “Yes?”
 
“Uh, hullo,” he said. “I am sorry to disturb you maam, I was just across the way over there doing some clearing of that stand of wood and it seems my truck won’t start.  Would you mind if I used your phone to call someone?”
 
She looked at him suspiciously.  She lived alone; she did not want to let him into her house.  Besides, he was dirty and looked like a drifter.  But….
 
“I’ll tell you what, you run around to the back screen porch of my house.  I keep a phone extension out there you can use.”  
 

She turned to shut the door in the man’s face just as he was thanking her.

 
“Ugh,” she thought.  “What bad timing.  I hope he is gone before the supper club is here.”  As she went to go back upstairs, she saw that the man was now sitting on her back porch using the phone. It was still hot out there; August in the mid-Atlantic could be brutal.  Even in the evening.
 
“I should offer him some water,” she thought… “But I need to get changed.” She turned one more time to go to her room and she felt her conscience prick her.  He really did look thirsty.  She went to the back door and opened it a crack.
 
“Mr…. I am sorry, what was your name?”
 
“Joshua, my name is Mr. Joshua,” he responded.
 
“Ok, Mr. Joshua, would you like some water?
 
“Well thank you maam, that would be nice, yes, if you don’t mind.”
 
Samantha grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and walked out on the porch to hand it to him.  “Did you reach someone to come get you?” she queried.
 
“Well in a way I did.  I called my brother, Peter, but he was out so I left him a message.  He will get home from work in just a few minutes and he should get it then.  I will call in a few minutes again if it’s all the same to you.
 
“Sure, whatever,” remarked Samantha.
 

She stood there staring at him, and for the first time really noticed his eyes.  They were very dark, so black they seemed to reflect her in them, almost like a mirror.  It was kind of disturbing.  She wondered, could see right into her?

 
“Well, I must get going, I am expecting guests,” she pointedly told him and turned to go.
 
The man asked, “Are you new to the area.  I noticed a bunch of packing boxes on the curb?”
 
“Uh, yes” she said, and blushed.  She had only recently finished going through her moving boxes, she had put some of them off, just too many memories.
 
“Where are you from? I detect a southern accent.” he asked.
 
Alarmed, her eyebrows rose as she felt a little panic. She quickly answered, “I grew up in a small town in Alabama, you wouldn’t know it.”
 
“Why did you move here to Salem?” he asked.
 
Her thoughts raced back to Brandon Holloway.  The man who owned her heart.  The man she left behind.  The man of mystery.  The man, she had come to find out, was someone else’s husband…and then she thought of their baby.  Her heart filled with pain and her eyes began to sting with tears.  Nausea, shame and self-disgust filled her.  She looked away from him. The question hung in the air.  The man’s eyes pinned her down where she stood… He repeated the question.  She stuttered.  “Oh sorry, umm, well I needed a change.”
 
He nodded, knowingly and said softly.  “Yes, you did need a change…and I know you are sorry Samantha. Very sorry.  I have heard your silent prayers; I have seen your nightmares.  What he did was wrong; and your choices were wrong too…but you already know that or I wouldn’t be here.”
 
Her eyes filled with shock.  “What? What do you mean you KNOW” she demanded.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her trembling hand and almost spilled wine on herself.  She hadn’t even realized she was still holding it.  
 
Visibly upset, Samantha asked, “What do you know that about me? Are…are you from Alabama too?”
 
“No, not specifically, Samantha, you might say I am from lots of places.” he answered.
 
“Samantha?  How do you know my name?” she stammered as fear lodged in her throat.
 

Can a Father forget His child? he asked her.

“Child?  How do you know about that?  Did Brandon send you here?” Samantha let out a low moan and began to sob, her whole body shaking with tears and regret.
 
“I shouldn’t have done it, I should have found another way. ” she wailed. “He made me do it.  I didn’t know he was married and he told me no one could know….I am so sorry….the baby…”
 
Is with me.”  the stranger finished her sentence.  She looked at him in disbelief.  She shook her head, trying to clear it from confusion.
 
She felt momentary anger and yelled at him. “How do you know this? Who DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, GOD?
 
He answered her.  “I AM.”
 
to be continued…
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