Jesse is an old, old man. He has come over for years. Looking back, I can remember the first time he knocked on our door and asked if he could fish off the point. He has come to this little spot for many years; long before we moved here.
Until yesterday, I didn't even know his name. Had I not asked or did my memory just fail me? Ashamed that I didn't remember, I asked my daughter to go introduce herself and to ask him his name. "Jesse," he says.
Jesse comes over to catch his supper. Usually he leaves with brim, but last night he caught three large catfish! This spot is popular with the crack-of-dawn fishermen and is known to house quite a few catfish; I guess something Jesse has known all his life.
My daughter and I were cleaning out my shed from the winter of having thrown everything right inside the door.
It was dark when Jesse came up the hill. I could barely see him and hollered out, "Did you catch anything tonight?" He didn't answer and probably assumed that I could see the three catfish hanging beside him. Carrying his simple fishing pole and his fish, and seemingly tired, he stumbled as he walked and I worried that he would fall on the uneven path.
When he spoke, I couldn't see his face, but he sounded just like my grandfather; soft spoken, gentle and humble. I had to clear the path from all my 'stuff' for him to pass by. As he passed he said, "If you ever need any help around the house, I am a pretty good carpenter." I thanked him and said I would pass that along to my husband. He said, "Well, best get on home. I still have to cook these fish. My wife died six years ago." Amazed that he would go home, skin and filet his fish and cook it, I replied, "I wish I knew how to skin a fish."
He offered to teach me next time. As he climbed in his truck, he turned back to me and said, "You be careful now, ya' hear. The snakes are starting to come out and it is dark."
I thanked him and said I would.
Later that evening, an overwhelming sense of conviction came over me. I can throw a party. I love to entertain and to make fun decorations for my family and friends. I have been told that I have the 'gift of hospitality.' Do I? I can entertain loved ones, but can I serve a sweet, old man in need of some food and a comfortable place to sit?
How did I miss the opportunity? How did I 'forget to entertain a stranger?" All the excuses come to my mind. We ate sandwiches earlier in the evening and didn't have anything but pimento cheese in the refrigerator. I think back and bet that a pimento cheese with a big slice of tomato on some toasted bread would have tasted pretty good to Jesse.
Next time, I will tell Jesse to throw those fish in the back of his old truck and invite him in.
This reflection overwhelms me; a fisherman, a carpenter, a humble and gentle man, and even the advice he gave me...reminds me of someone else I know. Could Jesse be a stranger in disguise? My heart hurts over my actions, but I am thankful that the Lord is working in my selfish heart.
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