This is dedicated to the small band of brothers and sisters that is Old Parish Church: You are a shining example of the power of giving. I believe the Lord led us here to learn and participate in your missions. Your unwavering commitment to helping the least of our brethren stands as an example of being generous in deeds, talents, and action.
Blessed are those who give cheerfully and seek nothing in return.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you.
My story begins a few years ago. Those of you who have lived or visited the area for many years will remember the Friendly's restaurant that used to be in the Londonderry shopping center. My wife Louise and I had just had a quick bite to eat in Friendly's and for whatever reason, the meal ended in a not so pleasant conversation.
No doubt the reason we were arguing was due to some stupid comment that I made. After all I am a male and my specie has been known to lack the tactful and sensitivity gene.
As we were leaving the restaurant, with me all huffy and puffy, a man's voice called from a car sitting directly in front in the parking lot. A quick glance at the car and I saw the Pennsylvania license plates so I knew they were from away. The man who had called out to me had his head partly out the window and spoke to me as I moved closer.
"Excuse me, but my wife and I are trying to find a room for the night and every place all around the area seems to be filled up. Do you have any suggestions for us where we might find a room?"
Well that didn't surprise me; it was after all a busy tourist time of year in Vermont. As he spoke I saw that they were a young couple and his wife, who to my untrained medical eye, appeared extremely pregnant.
Still being in a gruff and foul mood I really didn't want to extend the conversation and told him and his wife that they should just keep looking and maybe there would be something down towards Manchester, good luck, and walked away.
The young couple didn't say a word further but slowly backed out of the parking spot and headed off. We also got into our car and headed home, me still in a foul mood, holding resentment for an argument that I started and at that point couldn't even recall what about.
After a short drive down Route 100, the plight of this young couple struck me. Here they were traveling in a different state, weary from travel, the wife very pregnant and starting to be in a bit of a panic not being able to find a room for the night. They had reached out to a stranger, who acted like he could care less.
A light went off in my often dense head. Was it not a few thousand years ago a young couple traveling by donkey with a very pregnant wife was also having trouble finding lodging? You know the story, no room in the inns they had stopped at and unable to find lodging ended up staying the night in a structure occupied by animals, giving birth to our Savior.
It was at that moment that I told Louise that we needed to turn the car around and go back and find that couple. We lived in a big house and had a spare room to provide this young couple in need. Louise being the generous person she is didn't question me or hesitate for a moment to agree.
We did go back and try to find them, even going so far as to look for them heading down the mountain towards Manchester.
Now I would love to tell you that this story has this really cool, remarkable ending. How we found them, gave them shelter, that we are now close friends, Godparents to their baby.
But, that's not what happened.
We didn't catch them.
I don't know if or where they found shelter. As mysteriously as they appeared they also disappeared.
I have often wondered what happened to them that night - as I wonder what they thought of the stranger who did nothing to help them.
To this day, I believe that this was God testing me, to see if I would be there for others in need, if I understood the meanings of his words or learned from the Bible stories that I had been taught as a child.
I have taken this experience as a learning of how God wants me to be. I needed to understand that Giving doesn't come AT or ON a time that is convient for me. That I need to be prepared to Give at any time, any place. If I want strangers to care about me that I need to care about strangers.
As Mother Theresa said, "Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me."
Copyright © 2008 Adrian Max
This Holiday that we celebrate as Thanksgiving means giving thanks for the abundance in my life and as a reminder to be thankful that I can give.