A guest I had seen once or twice before waited for me in the parking lot. When I got out of my car to cross the street to Manna House, I heard her say with intensity, “God has appointed me to be your special guardian angel today.”
God’s messengers are always a bit startling, and I was startled. I managed to say “Thank you.”
I crossed the street. What did this divine herald of the new day mean? What else might I hear from God this morning? But before I had any clear answer, the guests waiting for me to open the gate, gave their “Good mornings!” accompanied by a few questions easier to answer.
“Can I get on the list?”
“Yes, I’ll be back out to take the list at seven forty-five.”
“What time is it now?”
I went inside Manna House and plugged in the coffee pots. Three hundred cups would be ready for consumption in little more than an hour.
Then I sat down to begin my morning prayer. The angel was still on my mind as I prayed Psalm 95: “Today, listen to the voice of the Lord.”
An angel is a messenger, one who brings the voice of the Lord. I remembered something I was told a long time ago at the Open Door Community, when I first began this journey of hospitality with people on the streets and in prison, “Go to the listening posts. Go to the people who are in pain. Go to where the suffering is palpable. Go to the broken and the brokenhearted. Go and listen.”
Or as Jesus urged, go to the least of these. “ For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. … Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”
The words from my guardian angel coalesced through the rest of the morning with the questions I heard.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “When’s that meal you all have here?” Feed the hungry.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “When do you start serving coffee?” Give drink to the thirsty.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “I’m new to the streets, what’s this place all about?” Invite in the stranger.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Can I get a hat today so that I won’t get a sunburned head?” Clothe the naked.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Some guys jumped me. They beat me bad, broken shoulder, broken ribs. I’m healing but need your prayers.” Visit the sick.
I heard the voice of the Lord say, “I’m just out of jail. Can I get a shower?” Visit those in prison.
The Feast of the Transfiguration is on the horizon. Jesus takes a few of his disciples up a mountain. There they have a vision of him standing with Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets. And then, “In a resplendent cloud the Holy Spirit appeared. The Father’s voice was heard: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Some days, Manna House is the place where I hear him most clearly.