The 2nd Saturday of every month challenges me and has changed me.
I find myself sitting in the quiet of the afternoon sort of empty and yet full.
My mind wanders yet sits very still wanting to take it all in.
3.5 hours that seem to leave me breathless.
Every four weeks I get to spend time with persons that I don't other wise get to see. Truth be told the sentence should read that I don't other wise take the time to see.
The 2nd Saturdays aren't just about giving out food; it's not about counting the numbers (which believe me as a UMC pastor we know how to count numbers and track participants); it's not about how fast we can get them through the process of letting them shop for their groceries. It's just so much more than that.
I am breathless because a man who receives doesn't just do his own shopping and walk to his car, he is ready to jump in and carry other persons food down the steps. More than just wanting to help others, my mind is wandering to and fro because this gentlemen needs (I mean needs...really needs) new shoes. His shoes are worn and tattered, barely hanging together and yet he climbs the steps numerous times because he wants to give back. As I look down at my shoes today I know that I have a choice (many choices) of which shoes I want to wear and here is someone without complaint walking in shoes that are on their last thread.
I am brought to an immediate halt when someone approaches me with a pew bible in her hand and ask if we have any extra bibles to give. She tells me that her grandchildren who are 18,17, 13, 12 and two that are10 have never had their own bible. One of her grandchildren was here last month and couldn't get over that there were so many bibles and sat reading it while they were waiting. She explains that she doesn't have a bible either. I am only half listening as I think about the reality that we walked into a store when E finished the 2nd grade ( she was was going off to Camp Hopetown for the first time) so that E could choose the Bible she wanted. We stood looking at each cover, looking at the font in which it was printed and the interpretation that she liked reading. I remember standing in the store thankful and proud to be sharing this moment with her. The request today put a stop-sign right in front of me because what I take for granted.
I feel like a bomb exploded around me as persons shared their stories of despair. It's not the kind of despair that comes from being hopeless but the kind of despair to arises when people become invisible. As I see them and listen to them, each one becomes a Hero. The Hero that takes a child into their home (a child is of no relation) because they see a life that needs to be loved and valued. I experience the Hero that saves two grandchildren from the fires that have burned their skin (and most likely scared their hearts in ways that will never be seen). Persons that are invisible to the rest of the world take the light that they have and redeem someone else.
My heart aches as one of our dear friends comes and I see in her eyes that something isn't right; the light is not as bright. The reality is that she has had major surgery on her mouth and we did not know. My heart aches for a new member of the family that is struggling with anxiety so deep that she was shaking sitting in the back pew. I never see her climb the stairs and I wonder if she left before she was able to receive her food.
There is the celebration when those who receive are the ones that are also feeding others. There is a reaching out and a taking ownership in what is transpiring. My soul is both grieved and full.
I wish we didn't have the 2nd Saturday of each month and yet I cannot imagine my life without it. Standing with my 2nd Saturday family doesn't make me a better Christian.
It does not mean that I have a higher place in heaven.
It doesn't mean that I am holier than thou.
It doesn't mean that I am more important than someone else.
It doesn't mean that my moral code is higher or better than others.
It does mean that I get to see the holiness of our God.
It means that I get to be relationship with others that I otherwise would not.
It reveals the humanity and worth of every single person in this world.
It allows me to glimpse the depth in which Jesus loved
It moves my soul to draw a closer to the one that gives life and anoints us.
Thank you 2nd Saturday family for touching me, thank you for letting me into your life, thank you for the ways in which you wrap your arms around me and shine the light into my world. I am empty yet full.