The scene at the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong was controlled chaos. The narrow street was flooded with Jags, Mercedes, and the occasional Rolls. Drivers were standing by on the ready, alert yet cautious, present yet somehow not noticed, and curious yet discreet. Our car pulled up from the airport with four of the hotel staff standing by on the ready. Porters were ready for the bags, check-in pads were already pre-filled; everyone seemed prepared, except for one thing. There were three of us, not two.
As we got out of the car the first request came for my name with a close second for the individual sharing the flight with me up from Singapore. Our colleague looked bewildered. Even those discreetly looking on were puzzled. It was as if “no one around the supper table knew why he said this to [me or] him.” (John 13.28) For a brief instant confusion reigned!
“Did you register sir? Please accept our apologies. We didn’t know you were coming.”
The theatre struck me like a brick. Is this what life is when you boiled it down? Do we respond to the opportunities around us as long as we know they are coming? Are we putting on a show for those we deem important? Can we always be prepared?
In fairness it is unreasonable to expect the hotel to have every guest’s register ready when a car pulls into the lane. Yet their excuse and rationale echoes far more of my life than I am willing to admit. It is as if I exercise compassion when I have qualified the opportunity, filtered the event, and measured the expectation. What about surprises? Do the unexpected ever show up at one’s doorstep? Do opportunities go unanswered and unfilled?
Today is a fresh day, full of undiscovered gates into the lives of people around us. You and I can bring a fresh gift of compassion, acceptance, and mercy to those least expecting it. We can give others a reception befitting of society’s best. The quest is something worthy of our time and effort
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