In the Presence of God
I joined Union Gospel Mission's volunteer program and spent three hours this afternoon handing out 275 simple meals of soup, rolls, candies, and drinks to the downtown homeless. I've done many things but this was new for me.
We spent an hour preparing and then one of the volunteers, Harry, with a booming voice and rough appearance (God always has his "sons of thunder”) controlled and directed, three people at a time to come to our table where we handed out the meal. As each person came in, most with heads down, I worked the dinner without any overpowering emotion.
I noticed many bare-feet blackened by the streets. For a moment, it took me back to my carefree childhood where we played in the summer sun bare-footed and free. These feet were blackened neither by play nor sun but rather by need.
I now understand why Jesus chose to wash his disciple’s feet; there was a moment when I found myself wanting to do that very thing.
A woman in her late fifties, with heavy make-up and glimmers of beauty from the days when she turned young men's heads, spoke to us with an outgoing but embarrassed demeanor as she disguised her story of heartache.
We had one large cooler of juice that I feared would never quench the thirst of the long line of people, but I filled every cup and the supply continued. When the last man came in, we were out of food except for a cup of candy. I tilted the cooler and drained out one last cup. I felt like the widow woman with her pot of oil that never failed to supply.
As the meal supply dwindled as well as the people, one young gal in her early twenties arrived wrapped in a grey blanket, bare-footed with a sweet face and comely features. She didn't make eye contact, I suppose, because her face was covered with scabs -- no doubt from heavy meth use. She asked if she could have a cup of juice and my heart began to fill to overflow with compassion for her. I would have given anything she asked for if it were in my power. I was overcome with emotion and had to fight back the tears. She was one of the last few stragglers that we served.
I helped mop and clean up and left. I left feeling the presence of God so strongly it was as if I were handing out the body and blood of Christ at communion.
I think I was. I'm sure I was.
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