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Our Unexpected Easter Guest

What began as a disappointing holiday became a blessing for two unlikely friends.

A white Easter lilly against a pale blue sky

It was the Thursday before Easter and I was feeling really down. As I left home to run some errands, I thought about how our children and grandchildren had other plans this year and weren’t going to be coming over to our place for dinner.

My husband and I wouldn’t get to see the girls in their pretty pastel dresses or our grandson in his vest and button-down shirt. There would be no shrieks of laughter as the kids hunted for colorful eggs in our backyard.

I tried inviting some friends over from church. Why not fill the house for a holiday feast? I thought.

But everyone I called, save for one couple, already had other commitments. A big traditional Easter dinner hardly seemed worth the effort for so few guests.

Maybe I’ll just make meatloaf or pasta this year, I thought as I pulled up to the tiny engraving studio south of town to pick up an order. Earlier in the week I had brought in 20 small mirrors to be etched for an upcoming women’s retreat.

Greg, the owner, had seemed oddly distracted when I dropped the mirrors off, tossing a toy to his dogs, perusing his computer monitor, never once making eye contact with me. Still, I liked him.

We ended up having a fascinating conversation. He told me that he had autism. He had been misdiagnosed for years and had once even lived on the streets of Seattle. He credited faith for turning his life around.

Maybe it was the memory of that chat, but now as he carefully packed the mirrors in a bag for me, I blurted out, “Greg, why don’t you come to our house for Easter?”

He seemed as startled as I was.

“I couldn’t do that,” he replied. “I’m not very comfortable away from home and my dogs.” There was a pause. “I don’t drive,” he added.

“My husband would be glad to come get you,” I said.

But to no avail. Greg just shook his head.

“I understand,” I said.

I thanked him for the mirrors and left, a little relieved, in fact, that Greg had turned me down. What had I been thinking? I asked myself as I got into my car and pulled out of the studio parking lot.

At home I logged onto my computer. To my surprise there was an e-mail from Greg: “The time has come for me to overcome my fears. I accept your invitation,” it read.

I took a deep breath. Okay, I thought. I hope this works out.

Easter afternoon I sat Greg at the head of the table, our plates filled with glazed ham, twice-baked potatoes and pea salad, an apple pie baking in the oven. I’d gone all out, if only for our three guests.

We said grace then I glanced at Greg as he took a bite of ham. His eyes met mine.

“Delicious!” he said.

The afternoon flew by. Greg seemed to know a little something about every subject that came up—art, music, books, cooking, decorating. He was a delightful guest, unusual but delightful.

He even brought me a book of poems he had written. “I’ve been so blessed,” he said.

If only more people could have been here to meet him, I thought.

It was nearly dark when our guests finally said they had to leave. At the door I exchanged hugs with each of them.

“This was perfect,” Greg said when I hugged him. “And I’m really glad you didn’t have a full house. I couldn’t have done it otherwise.”

For a moment I was dumbfounded. It had never occurred to me that God might be in charge of the guest list. But then it was Easter after all.

“The pleasure was ours,” I said. And I meant it.

Late that evening I pulled one of the mirrors Greg had engraved out of the bag. Slowly I read the words: “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and of love… 2 Timothy 1:7.” The perfect verse for the day.

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