The young homeless couple wasn't there when I returned. Maybe someone picked them up and took them to lunch. That would be great, except that I want to, I thought. I felt robbed of a blessing. Is that silly?
I didn't give up; instead, I searched the immediate area in hopes they were on foot. Sure enough, as I pulled into a parking lot to scan the vicinity, I spotted them on my side of the street. She was using the cardboard sign to shield her face against the wind . He was walking close beside, with his hoodie snug around his ears.
As they approached, I rolled down the passenger side window. "Hey," I said. "Have you guys had lunch yet, or would like to go somewhere with me? I haven't eaten yet, either." They smiled and said, "No, we haven't, and yeah, are you sure? That'd be great!" I asked them to hop in the back and then to fasten their seat belts. "I'm a mom," I said, "and the rule is, if you ride with me, you wear a seat belt, even though you're over 16, right?" They complied and buckled up.
"Yeah, I'm 25 and she's 21." I was pretty close in my guess. They were young enough to be my children, and I felt an immediate pang of sorrow for them and protectiveness over them. But I prayed for coolness of head, that emotion would not obscure wisdom.
"Arby's or Burger King?" I added. "You pick." They picked Burger King. As we drove, I asked if they were related to each other. "No, this here's my girlfriend, Shelley, and I'm Kevin." (Not their real names; I have changed them for their privacy.) I introduced myself and started asking a bunch of open-ended questions.
Where are you from?
They were from a neighboring county I was only vaguely familiar with.
How long have you been away from there?
And where do you live now?
In a tent in the woods.
A lump formed in my throat. A tent in the woods? In this cold? Yeah, they said, but when it's real cold, they have a friend or two down here who let them in for showers and sleeping.
We pulled into BK which was nearly empty, as it was two o'clock. Shelley and Kevin politely ordered just a Whopper each, but I asked if they wanted a drink and some fries. They seemed sheepish to answer, but I saw the look. We all know that a burger without fries and a Coke is like a pair of jeans without a zipper and pockets. "Make it a meal for each of them," I told the cashier, "and a fish sandwich for me." Fish without fries and a Coke is like 800 calories without 1200 more, so that's fine.
The whole time, my mind was racing ahead. What do I say? Where will they go when lunch is over? What is their story? Can I believe their story? Are they on drugs? They are so precious. Just look at them. God love 'em. So young, so sweet. What if I just took them home for the afternoon to stay warm for awhile and let them nap in the basement if they wanted? What if they're allergic to the dog? What if they steal from us? I wonder if they know the Lord. I wonder , I wonder , I wonder.