Saturday, November 24, 2012

Overturned Tables and Second Chances.

Second Chances

Today I served at a food pantry.  
Which surprised me, 
Since I wasn't sure I ever would again. 
You see, I've had good experiences and bad.
  You, too?

In the past, some bad experiences included people standing apart from each other so they could each claim their entire family - thus getting twice as much food as the next family.

Or, the person who waits till the end and says, 
"Those of us at then end, we get all extras, just ask. We get the rest of what's on the truck. 
Go ask.  You look new here."

Then there's the person who says to her friend in line, 
"Yeah, I don't really need it but I'm tired of everyone else getting what I paid for. 
 I figure, this time, I'm getting my share.  
Today, I'm getting MINE."

Years ago my friends and I were helping at a soup kitchen.  
I was handing out day old bagel pieces.  We were told to reach in the black hefty bag and give whatever we grabbed.  Someone wanted a fruit bagel.  They got onion.  The next person got fruit.
Tables were overturned.  Punches were thrown.  People were tossed out into the cold.  
Ironically, the remaining guests tried to comfort the volunteers 
who, like me, were taken back and maybe a bit scared. I know I was. 
The tables were turned in more than one way that day.  
The homeless were trying to comfort me -  the bagel girl. 
So many emotions.
Theirs.  Mine.
I wasn't sure I'd ever hand out food again.

Years later, I view that scuffle a little differently.  
It wasn't so much about a stupid stale bagel.  
Likely it had more to do about choice and dignity.  
And, perhaps a little mental illness.   Perhaps a lack of sleep.

Today, I tried again.
And, the words I heard were so different. 
 It was a heart-warming day. 
Awe-inspiring, really.

"Please don't give me so much bread this time.
I couldn't use it all.
Save it for someone else."

"I'm not sure how much time I have left.
I just want my kids to know The Father.
To have hope."
"I heard you were collecting kid clothes, right?
  She's growing out of hers fast...
So, I have something to give.
Where can I drop them off?"

"You know, I'm doing okay.
Can we just pray for the others here today?"

Seconds chances.
We all need them.

Today, I needed a second chance at opening my heart.  The risk was rewarded.  
I learned that if you were to take a survey of those unemployed, under employed, or experiencing a life crisis - both volunteers and guests would be raising hands.  
We all needed hope today.  There were many tears.  
And many smiles.  And, a few precious hugs.

I'll pray for the faces, names and stories.
I'll pray for the guests as well as the volunteers.

I'm blessed to have been offered so many second chances.
I'm glad to know a God of second chances...
And, of thirds...and fourths...

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding:
 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 5-6

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