The jazz combo was about half way through its second set when all my early warning radar went off. There were maybe thirty of us in the small wine bar having a great time. Most of us knew the members of the combo, so it was all friends and family. Except for the inebriated old guy of uncertain age who wandered in off the street, ambling his none too straight way to the bar for a long schmooze with the bartender, gaining nothing out of it. It didn’t matter. He loved the music, so he greeted each of the band members, in the middle of a song, before taking up his place just behind the piano player, where he kept time with a little impromptu dancing.
Dancing! For the son of one of the band members, who was sitting with his mom not far from us, dancing is his most favorite thing to do. He had spent most of the first set dancing with more energy than I thought possible, even for a six year old. So when he saw the old sot dancing, he hopped off his stool, ran up to the front, and began dancing with him. There they were, a six year old boy and an old drunk off the street, dancing away with unbounded joy, which they did until the set ended and it was time to leave, but it wasn’t quite over. The old guy wandered through the small crowd shaking hands and introducing himself with a mumbled name no one ever quite got. Who knows, it might have been Raphael?
Sometimes the innocent exuberance of a six year old is more profound than the suspicions of an adult. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it,” says the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews. “When you give a [party],” says Jesus, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” Maybe he could have added, “and the old drunk off the street who likes to dance.”