A bowl of lemons

I know what you are thinking. From looking at the title, you probably think this will be about making do with what you have. Turning a bad situation into good. A “when life hands you lemons” thing. But it isn’t. This is about a moment. A dumbstruck, life-altering moment that happened on my own front porch just yesterday.


One of the hardest things to get used to here in Honduras is the fact that there is a constant stream of people knocking on my door. A child needing a band-aid. A young man wanting a tool for a job. A friend wanting coffee, which is nearly always available in my house. A few days ago, a dirty, shoe-less woman showed up on our front porch. She was muttering something through broken, damaged teeth that I couldn’t make out, and I doubt it was because my Spanish is still poor. She sat on the edge of the porch for a while and just nodded at our attempts to ask her what she needed. Presently, a friend came up to our porch as well.
“Alan, what does she need? I can’t understand her.”
Alan responded that she lived in the neighboring village and was extremely poor. Ronnie and Joanne, the previous inhabitants of my house, would give her food and coffee occasionally. I was happy to oblige, because like I said, the coffee pot is almost always on. She sat down with a happy smile and drank her coffee and ate her french toast before handing me back my dishes and leaving.
Fast forward a few days to yesterday. It was an early and busy morning. Nothing unusual there. Chris had to make an airport run to San Pedro Sula. I realized in my breakfast prep that my stove was out of propane, starting a flurry of quick, frazzled trips next door to the Jarvis house to mix up and bake the banana muffins I had been halfway through making. Aleassa is always gracious, if a bit confused, by my early morning energy. On one of my trips next door, I noticed the lady from La Esperancita was back on the porch. I handed her a cup of coffee, but had no food made to give her yet, because my muffins were in the oven next door. She disappeared pretty quickly, after leaving my empty cup on the step. A few hours later, she was back. I assumed she was still hungry because I had not fed her that morning.  I quickly grabbed the leftover muffins and headed for the porch. As I was handing them to her, I realized her hands were already full. She was holding her shirt out in front of her with a pile of lemons and limes held inside. I stopped, rather confused. She was muttering something again that I couldn’t make out. She pushed the fruit towards me, and I picked one up, still not sure what to do. She proceeded to hand me every single one of them, in a steady stream of garbled Spanish, before walking away, ducking and smiling, with her late breakfast.

I stood there, amazed.  This woman, who clearly had so very little, had just given abundantly. Out of gratefulness for what she had been given, she had given above and beyond. How many times has the opportunity to give been presented to me and I want to hold on to what I have? How often is someone less fortunate at my door, and I think “Really? Again? We don’t have much left!” At the end of the day, when I have given of myself over and over, and someone else has a need, how frequently do I decide that I just can’t keep on giving? Lord, when I am at that point, may I always remember the bowl of lemons. The woman who gave out of her need. The one who had so little found a way to give, and give abundantly. May I never be found doing any less.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. Luke 6:38

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