Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meeting Jesus in a Soup Kitchen

(note: although all the events are true, I have deleted minor details to protect the privacy of the people mentioned in this, especially names.)

Recently (last Saturday, actually), my confirmation class went on a retreat and visited a soup kitchen. And I met Jesus.

I've gotten some funny looks when I've said that, as if meeting Jesus isn't a thing people usually do. Which kinda makes me laugh and then makes me sad, because people SHOULD be able to see Jesus in everyone they meet. I don't know if that means they're not looking, or that people aren't acting like Jesus. Either way, that's a bit sad.

So anyway: the retreat. Our group met in our church to discuss what our experience at this soup kitchen would be like. We would serve lunch to the members, as they were called, at the day shelter, and we would play bingo with them. We talked about making sure to see Jesus in the people we served there--to look past their appearance and circumstances, and to recognize their humanity, as well as their divinity.

When we got to the soup kitchen, I was (understandably) a bit nervous--soup kitchens and the homeless aren't things I generally hang around very often. As we started off, I was pretty silent, washing tables as people finished eating and trying to be invisible. I smiled and said polite things, but I didn't really converse with anyone (conversation was somewhat impeded by the piano player in the back of the room as well; I felt like an idiot because anytime anyone said anything to me, I had to ask them to repeat it multiple times).

Finally, near the end of the hour and a half that we were serving, a middle-aged black man with a pencil behind his ear said hi to me. Because there wasn't many people left, I felt free to sit down and talk. He asked me how I was doing, and just a few minutes after that, he began asking me deeper questions--what I wanted to do with my life; what dreams I had. I told him I wanted to be an author, and when he asked me what I wanted to write, I began describing "A Wrinkle in Time" to him. By this point, several of the others in my group had sat down at the table and were listening too. I asked him if he read many books, and he said no, he preferred working with his hands (this made me smile; after all, Jesus was a carpenter). He then asked us why we were there, and when we told him we were on a confirmation retreat, and that our church was St. Martin of Tours, he asked us what the story of that saint was. This post is excessively long already, so I'm not going to retell this story; if you aren't familiar with it, please look up this saint--he's a pretty great guy. Anyway, we talked for a while longer--half an hour or so. The best part of our conversation was when he thanked all of us for recognizing the Jesus in him, regardless of his outside appearance. It was wonderful how that happened, because he used the exact same phrases that our group had said at that meeting just a few hours earlier. We said goodbye to him, and he left, saying how he was happy to have met us.

So I found Jesus in a soup kitchen that day. Who knows where I'll see him next. Maybe it'll be in you. :)

Song of the day: "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy. Wonderful song! And really relatable to me lately.

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