Last weekend my friend Ben left me a message asking if I could help him fulfill an obligation.
He occasionally commits to organizing a group to serve food and clean up at the Denver Mission. Somehow - the people he was counting on couldn't make it and he was frantically trying to round out his staff of volunteers.
Considering he only had 24 hours notice he wasn't holding out hope. But Mr. B and I went to Mass Saturday evening and he had plans to golf Sunday morning so as it happened I was free. I didn't really want an obligation Sunday morning and I almost said no - that I wouldn't make it.
At 10:30 I met Ben and some of his friends at the mission in the gritty part of downtown Denver. We set up the tables with water and bread and prepared to serve the homeless as they came in for lunch. I got to work the dessert table, with a variety of donated cakes, pies, cookies, danishes and coffeecakes.
It's just starting to get cold at night so the homeless are wearing their layers of coats everywhere now. (It's so sad, I see so many wearing heavy coats in the heat of summer just because they have no place to store them - and they can't bear to think of the coming winter without that coat so they suffer through the summer. I wish we could supply a place to store them - and clean them, but I suppose efforts would be better spent on food and shelter)
So these men and women are coming through the chow line a little dirty, holding all the possessions they can fit under their arms while carrying a lunch tray.
Going for the protein and nutrients they get chicken and beans and a salad... then they came to my station for dessert. There's that part of me that thinks the last thing they need is a sugar crash, and another that knows the sweet treat must be a little slice of heaven in their world.
I smiled broadly at each of them. Asked them to tell me what looked good to them. I made sure they heard me say 'you're welcome' when they thanked me... and I called each of them sir. (I assume women don't like to be called ma'am! I don't anyway.)
It's not often that I can truly feel the Holy Spirit at work. But that morning I felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit in that dining hall! What a blessing to be there and have an opportunity to help them feel God's grace in some small way.
Some of them asked for two and three desserts! Some of them faked me out... "I'll have the cake. Oh wait I didn't see the pie!" So I gave them both!
Whatever they picked, I told them to be sure and enjoy it. A few of them looked me in the eye and said, "God bless you."
Ohh! That touched me! I returned the blessing... "God bless you." But inside I thought.... "He has. Oh He has!"
Just a reminder to respond to those last minute arrangements when you think you have something more important to do. (I really needed to clean my house) Well, my house is still a mess, but my heart is still full.
I can't wait to share the experience with Mr. B the next time Ben gets a group together.