Yesterday, I got up and did some writing and then headed off to the food pantry. We had received a major donation and I needed to sort through stuff.
My own plan for the food pantry, the packaging of soup/casserole ingredients that are crock pot ready (think of your food subscriptions like Blue Apron, Dinnerly, Hello Fresh, etc.) is getting pretty close to being trialed on a small group of people who are involved with another ministry of our church.
It is an ideal test since these people served are in a rough place. In speaking with them, they were all excited about the idea. Better yet, they all already had their own crockpots so that is an expense saved. As noted, I believe that we can put together a meal for a family for $5. I encouraged them to give things a try, and to get back with their ideas. Also to tell their friends, which is hopefully how we will grow to meet the greater need of our community.
My idea will not eliminate the traditional food pantry. We will still have the occasional people that come to us with dire needs and require more than a meal to throw in their crockpots. These are desperate times. I am a firm believer that we all must do the best we can, wherever we may be, to lend a hand, to extend kindness into this world.
Speaking of lending a hand, the other ministry leader came to me and said, "There is someone outside who asked to speak to you."
You will never believe who it was. Remember Bonnie, the homeless pilgrim? Yep. She is still around town. She stood there in her long woolen skirt, with her skinny dog, her pack on her back.
I told her how glad I was to see her again and that she'd been on mind.
She fixed an eye upon me. "I have a question for you," and she asked me a question designed to help her decide whether I was a 'true' Christian.
My answer puzzled her.
After a pause, she said, "You know that I am a seeker."
I said, "I think that we all are."
She said, "My job is to encourage others."
I said, "I think that that is our job on this earth, but I can also tell you that encouragement is a two way street. Not only should we consider ourselves encouragers, but we should allow ourselves to be encouraged. That is what God intends when he calls us to be in community."
She studied me.
The conversation was very stilted, punctuated by long pauses as each of us appraised the other, one standing on the sidewalk in her wool skirt, one freezing her ass off sitting on the marble steps of the church in her yoga pants.
It was a time to be careful, because one of the characteristics of schizophrenia is 'religiosity', the delusion that you understand God better than anyone else, and that it is your mission to fix the rest of the world. This can lead to very tragic events.
I said, to her, "Listen, I'm here every Wednesday, and I would love to talk with you any time you want. On the other days, you're welcome to tell the priest that you would like to talk to me. He can call me and I will come."
I left then, heading to my car to run the errands for the rest of my day. I am intrigued that she would return. I am curious where this will lead. Life is an adventure isn't it?
I went to Aldi's and got my groceries for the week. Eggs. Milk. Strawberries. Oranges. Potatoes. Yams. A loaf of bread and two bags of broccoli. I got to the register and entered my debit card. The card reader asked if I wanted cash back, and I requested $20. Tim needed cash for the rest of the week.
The cashier complained. "You need to ask me if I have the cash to give to you. I just got here. You've cleaned me out!"
I looked at her a little surprised. "That's a new rule," I said mildly.
She continued to complain. I think that she wanted me to retort sharply actually. I chose not to. She gave me 4 fives, still complaining. She didn't have a $20 bill to give me. I told her that I didn't need a $20 bill. The fives were just fine.
I repeated it to myself. 'It is our job to extend kindness...' Some folks make it a little more difficult though.
When I got home, the chicken in the crock pot made the house smell wonderful. I popped a potato and a yam into the oven to bake.
It was an interesting day. Iris missed her 'Ama and called to talk. She chattered away, talking about her boots and snow, and what she did that day. She has learned a new thing. She howls like a little wolf. She saw a program about a wolf pack and now she likes to be a wolf. Since we are part of her pack, we all must howl too.
She's right. At two, she has it all figured out: we are all part of the same pack.
Aaaaaah aaaaaaah OOOOOOOOOOOOOH!