Thursday, January 02, 2014

Singing in the Rain on this Thankful Thursday

Today I spent almost three hours serving people at the Loaves and Fishes pantry at church. Helping them choose food to take home and serve their families.

For each client, I am given a yellow post-it note with their name on it and the number of people in their families.

The first woman I helped was there collecting food for her family of 3. She was so grateful for the food and so overwhelmed by the seriousness of having lost her job that she wept - and accepted my offer of a hug.

One man had a backpack and two cloth bags that he carefully packed so he could get it all onto the bus on his way home. He too was deeply grateful for the assistance we offered.

I asked one toothless and smily client if she knew what her name, Bonita, means. She said, "Yes - pretty." I told her, "And don't you forget that." She laughed at my silliness - which was exactly what I hoped she would do.

One man said he had only recently arrived in Charlotte and, with his briefcase, crisp white shirt and tie, he looked like he came directly to the pantry from a job interview. I slipped him an extra stick of margarine and an extra pound of ground turkey. He shook my hand, asked my name, and said how grateful he was to have so much to choose from.

But the client who stood out most for me today was there with her sister. Neither of them could walk much so they took turns sitting in a chair that I moved from place to place in the pantry so they could see all the shelves and pick their food from a seated position. My client will undergo her final round of chemo for breast kanswer on January 8th. Do I even need to say that I cried when I found out? I got down on my knees in front of her chair and told her that one year ago right now, I too was undergoing chemo. She pulled off her hat, showed me her gloriously bald head, and asked if I too had lost all my hair. She was wearing very cute slippers, but because it started to rain while she was in the pantry, I tied plastic bags over them and walked her to the van that was picking her up. I asked her if I could hug her - and she too accepted my offer.

I keep those post-it notes, jot down a detail or two on each one so I will remember the client, and staple them into my calendar/diary. That way I am reminded to pray for them every time I open my calendar. So many stories. So many needs. So much suffering. So much love to offer. So many hugs. So many reminders that we are all in this together - that my life journey intersects with so many others at just the right time. I was reminded that my kanswer story is not mine alone. That my bus ride was by choice, but that is not the case for many people who ride the bus. That everyone needs a hug sometimes and an extra stick of margarine too.

Because I didn't have my car with me - which is a story all its own - at the end of my time at Loaves and Fishes, I had to walk two and a half blocks to the bus depot and take the bus home. Which I did gladly, with my umbrella up while singing in the rain.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve folks who need assistance.
I am grateful that they were willing to share a little of their stories with me.
I am grateful to be part of a church that serves the homeless and hungry of our city.
I am grateful that no one I know actually thinks Jesus would not "be down with" giving food freely to the hungry. (Who comes up with that foolishness???)
I am grateful to have the option to take the bus home when I don't have my car.
I am grateful that my daughter picked me up at the bus stop.
I am grateful that my daughter cooked dinner again.
I am grateful that my dear daughter is one week away from her first night on her college campus in Asheville.
I am grateful for the rain.
I am grateful for jeans, turtlenecks, socks, sneakers and umbrellas.
I am grateful that my husband is still gainfully employed and we can afford to eat so well, drive our cars, take the bus, wear clothing we like, and have enough free time to serve those around us.

Grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.

No comments: