Thursday, August 26, 2010

Goodness, Graciousness

I was just coming to check on my friend and look what I got,” I heard him say as the van door slid shut just before we pulled away. What he got was a warm meal, some hygiene items and a blanket.

His name was Dave and I encountered him last night on my first venture out in the Uplift van to deliver meals and necessities to the homeless in Kansas City. I was subbing for a friend who does this on a regular basis.

At every stop, we found our guests to be gracious and appreciative. “Thank you so much. God bless you.” We often didn’t have what they needed. “That’s, okay,” they’d say. It wasn’t okay for me. At least half of them asked for shirts and we didn’t have any. I have a drawer full of t-shirts at home—about half of which I never wear. It’s time to go through it again.

We met some who were witty and funny. Two, at separate stops, proudly boasted they had the same waist size they had in high school. By and large they looked out for one another. One stop was across the street from some police activity. One of our guests had been over there. He pointed at the others around the van, “They tried to warn me to stay away from there, but I didn’t listen.

And we met Dave. I don’t know where we were exactly—underneath an overpass somewhere. When we first arrived at this particular stop, we didn’t see anyone. One man came out of the darkness. We served him a plate of pasta with meat sauce and green beans. He came to the side of the van where we offered him hygiene items and other things he might need.

Then, his friend, Dave, came to the van. We served him. He chatted with his friend. He chatted with us. When we asked how he was he said, “Pretty good. I woke up on the right side of the dirt this morning.” As with everyone else, we offered things he might need. Toothpaste? Shampoo? “What I really need,” he said, “is a blessing.

He asked if we could pray. At his urging, we joined hands and he led us in prayer. I don’t remember all the words, it rhymed and I wondered if it was memorized from childhood. One line was “Thank you for all you have given us today.” Perhaps the reason I don’t remember the rest of the words is because I was struck by that line. I am grateful for all that I have, but I don’t often take time out of my day to say thanks for it. The message at church last Sunday was essentially the less you have the more you tend to appreciate what you do have. That was the case for this man.

When I was asked to volunteer, I had no idea what to expect. In the end, I was just helping out my friend, and look what I got. Thank you, God, for all you have given me today.

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