Perhaps the most beautiful thing about Friday night was all of the different people who joined us. Not only did we get to spend time with homeless men and women but some little ones joined us, too.
A friend and her husband brought their two young daughters to help pass out the suppers. Each of them, delighted, grabbed sacks of spaghetti -- and salad and bread and a cookie -- and walked fearlessly and joyfully up to the men and women that passed us by.
We had a rule: a meal in exchange for a name. And sharing names opened up room for conversation ...
One man had fallen on hard times, so he had been staying in the shelter. He gets to leave the shelter this week, thanks to his job, but he told us he will never forget the other homeless men and women he has met there. He hopes that they also are able to leave soon. He told us that many of them are working to get sober and get work, and he said, "they may fall back down but God keeps giving us chances."
Another man we met planned to stay outside that night. He has diabetes, and his legs and feet are discolored and swollen. He never pictured he'd be homeless; in fact, he told me he used to judge people in his position pretty harshly. He worked for a major beverage company for 20 years, but after an accident was let go from the company. He ran through $120,000 in pension and 401k, though he tried to use this money wisely, and even to expand it by investing. And even though the accident that left him unable to work happened on the job, he never got paid a dollar for it.
One unique thing about both of these men is that they kept talking about love. They had experienced God's love in the midst of their difficulties -- not only for them but for others. I just keep thinking that people who have experienced such hard times might be tempted to blame God, but somehow these men seemed to understand his love more palpably because of their hard circumstances. Through their faith, I was reminded how much I am loved when things are hard.
All in all, it was a wonderful night, and we can't wait to do it again next year!
We want to say thank you to the creative and generous people who made our spaghetti supper handout possible. So a special thanks goes out to Edward Henson and the Highland Park Belles!