I don't believe in coincidences.
Well, maybe little ones. Like wearing the same shirt to a barbecue or realizing you've taken a similar picture as a photographer you follow. Sometimes I think it's an accidental copy or tucking away an admired image in your brain and not knowingly mimicking it. A lot of things like that go back to nothing being original. It's all been done. There are no more original ideas. Just look at Hollywood. How many versions of Spiderman can there be? That said, I kinda want to see the new Annie. I didn't think I would because Annie is ANNIE, y'know? But I'm a sucker for an underdog and I honestly get choked up when those lil orphans start choreographing hard knocks.
I swear I have ADD.
The point of all of that is that I don't believe in big coincidences. I believe each of our stories is written by Another. We have choices, sure. Consequences, absolutely. There are times, though, where you have to stop and say, "Hold up a sec."
Last week I had one of those moments in a Mexican restaurant. It's no ordinary Tex Mex. Having lived in the Southwest for a number of years, we are quite particular about our Mexican food. If the menu is written in English, it just isn't authentique. I want to have to point and say, "Ci." We haven't eaten tons of Mexican food since leaving San Antonio. Dayton, Ohio isn't known for their Mexican cuisine. Like their seafood restaurants, you have to wonder...? It is a sacrilege when they roll out the Old El Paso taco shells and watered down salsa. Fajitas that come out with no sizzle? They do exist.
We found a real Mexican restaurant in downtown Dayton. It is muy muy authentique. Complete with a laundromato across the street. I say, "laundromat," you say, "laundromato." Heee heeeeeeee.
lavandería" is technically the Spanish word for laundromat.
Sean gets so annoyed when I use my limited Spanish there. "Nom nom nom, delicioso." Yes, I say it.
You can't tell from this lovely iPhone snapshot, but this is not the greatest area of town. I'm talking, wanted posters on the doors of the restaurant and for two separate crimes. And we were watching for the alleged criminals to walk into the establishment so we could collect on the reward(s). It may seem silly, but once you've had good Mexican food, there's really no question. One has to weigh the risks of guacamole over gunfire. I should add, this is in no way meant to offend Mexican food, Mexican restaurants, the Spanish language or Mexicans. Dayton is sketchy in every part of the city, not just near this particular restaurant.
Back to my story.
We came at just the right time and happened to be one of two parties eating on this particular weekday. As our food was delivered, complete with a sizzling fajita, I noticed a lone, older gentleman come in. He was obviously homeless and I could smell him from several feet away. About the time he sat down, the other couple finished up their food and left. We continued eating and it took me a minute to notice the fella had moved. He had gone to eat what the other party had left behind and my heart shattered. He was trying to be quiet so the staff wouldn't notice. Honestly, he reminded me of a skittish cat.
Kinda hard to continue on with conversation about how we see the world.
I understand why, but I still wanted to beg the waitress not to clear the table. She was very professional about it and I can see that it would be bad business to allow homeless people to come in and eat other people's leftovers. But still...
As we packed our kiddos up and walked out, I asked Sean to do what I was too chicken to. I handed him the cash I never seem to have and wished him well. Sean was working at the VA at the time. I figured he could communicate with an old, homeless fella quite proficiently. The man wouldn't accept the money, but allowed Sean to pray with him and have a chat. Knowing he was still hungry, Sean asked the waitress to bring him a meal. The man wouldn't order anything, so Sean said, "How about I get you what I had? Does a fajita sound good to you?"
I hope they brought it to him sizzling.
There are no coincidences. The man crossed our path for a reason and I certainly hope I continue to learn from people like him. I pray that my heart will be broken to self every single day. That I won't wrinkle my nose and lock my doors, but roll down my windows and reach out my hand. I'm trying to be alert always to the fact that God puts people in our lives for a bigger purpose...His purpose. And He's more concerned about people than fajitas.