I was looking forward to my mini-getaway. Booked at The Lucerne Hotel, I was super excited to indulge in its Old World styling and walking distance to Central Park, near where my parents lived in the 1950s.

I left my car for its vacation at the Park N’ Jet and stopped by the airport Starbucks for coffee and a sandwich. As I tucked it into my carry-on, I briefly wondered why I had bought the sandwich. It was a short thought as I immediately ran into a friend. Squeals of delight ensued.

We chatted and observed a young, disheveled passenger. He was talking to himself, and with idle curiosity, one of us commented that he looked like he was having a bad day. As I wanted to rest, I hoped not to be seated with him. I sensed that if he were my seatmate, that’s not how the flight would go.

Boarding time arrived.

As you probably guessed, the disheveled passenger was my seatmate. With empathy on red alert, I settled in.


The essence of my soul enjoys listening to strangers’ stories. Soon my seatmate was sharing his. He, indeed, was having a hard time. His grandmother died, and he was using the last of his money to attend the funeral. On his way to the airport, his car broke down, but the tow trucker operator gave him a ride.

He hadn’t eaten and had no money to buy anything. He drifted off to sleep. As he slept, I thought about my sandwich. He kept sleeping, and I kept thinking until finally, I leaned over and pulled the ham and cheese sandwich out of my bag.

When my new friend awakened, I confidently offered him the sandwich. He took it, incredulous that I would give him my food. Accompanying it was two airline snack packs and a can of soda. He unwrapped my offering and began taking meaningful, deliberate bites.

As he ate, he told me about his homesteading grandparents and what an excellent cook his grandmother was. She had been his saving grace, having confidence in him when no one else had. He was the only one of his siblings who had moved away. He had gone through a troublesome divorce but was grateful he still had time with his daughter, who needed extra care. Every detail was important.

What he was most looking forward to was meeting with his brothers and going through his grandmother’s recipes. He brightened as he told me about her candy recipes but didn’t know what they would do with them. I suggested they make and sell small batches. Hastily, I scribbled notes and shared my connections. His face began to look hopeful.

Our flight landed, and as we parted, he not only humbly thanked me but bowed and expressed a blessing over me that I recognized as a Monk’s prayer.

To this day, I am grateful I was entrusted with his care.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2)

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