Encounter with an Inebriated Angel on a Metro Bus

I've met people who I've thought of as angels. Generally, they've been kind, soft spoken and d0 not smell bad.

Last month I suffered a loss that left me bouncing between grief and anger. Then I had an encounter that could only happen on public transportation. At the time, I recognized that it was significant, but it's only after sitting with it for a few weeks that I'm beginning to understand it.

It was the end of a very long day at the clinic; I was tired and grumpy. The bus was late. It was crowded. I headed for the last seat on the bus and plopped down. Score!

The odor of stale cigarettes and old booze rolled over me. Now I'm a nurse. I'm not a stranger to foul odors, but those two smells are my Achilles' heel. I looked at my seat mate. He was disheveled, hunched over, his face turned into the wall of the bus. Then he informed me that I might have just planted my butt on his cigarette butt - the one he wanted to finish smoking later. An appropriate end to a lousy day.

I thought about moving. The better part of myself decided to stay and give him a polite greeting. I helped him determine the location of his cigarette butt. It was, thankfully, unlit. Feeling that I had satisfied the dictates of political correctness, I retreated to the world of iPod. He started taking sips from a can in a brown paper bag that he kept hidden in his gym bag.

As the bus hit the interstate, there was a tap on my shoulder.

"What music are you loving right now?"

We talked about Paul Simon for a bit, then he went back his hidden can and I returned to Paul's Rhythm of the Saints.

As I was getting ready to leave the bus, he said a few words to me that, on the surface, were trite. Under other circumstances, I would have questioned his sincerity and shrugged them off.

I found myself feeling like I'd just been give a benediction, one that has kept coming back to me as I live through the grief.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it". Hebrews 13:2

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