Story by Betty King
My husband and I chose to join others serving at a local soup kitchen sometime back. It was a holiday and we were feeling a bit dejected. We decided giving to others might be the best cure in healing what ailed us.
I took my place in line with other volunteers. Most were seasoned, dedicated servants. I had my instructions, “Make everyone feel welcome.” I sat on my three wheel motorized scooter at the beginning of the line. I was to keep the plates and silverware replenished and pass out special treats for the occasion.
We were fairly new in town, only had made a few acquaintances. Two of our grown children and their families had preceded us to this large Metropolitan City by a few years, but they had their own friends. We were feeling a bit lonely, so far away from the home we had known for most of our lives. We had left other children and grandchildren, parents and friends behind. I was feeling a bit needy myself. Sometimes more than our stomachs need nourishment.
The food smelled pretty good and everyone was preparing for the line that was expected. The volunteers had all introduced themselves and I was ready to do my small part to greet and to serve.
First one and then another filed through the line. A tall, light headed, nice looking young man, a little bedraggled, found his way as I greeted him. A middle age man with his wife and children in tow seemed a little down on their luck. A woman with her homeless partner, more than a little unkempt, filled their plates and found a place at one of the tables set festively for the holiday meal. Some seemed embarrassed, some eager, some reluctant; all seemed thankful.
Then he stepped up to the line. There I was on my three-wheel scooter and him with an outstretched hand. He stopped to chat, talking to me about my predicament and the scooter I sat on. As he began to talk I recognized him. “Yes, I know you, I said” I was as much surprised as was he. I hadn’t expected to see anyone that I knew at this place for the needy. But I remembered him; I had seen him one day down at the mall. I was on my scooter, he was walking and stopped to chat; he asked about my problems and my motorized scooter. He was clean, nice and polite; I didn’t know he was without. He didn’t remember me and was surprised and pleased that I recalled having met him. I don’t usually recall meeting strangers in such brief encounters, but he, I remembered. He tarried, hanging on to my every word. He was eager for conversation and pleased that of all the people who had come, someone actually remembered him. His smile of appreciation beamed from his face and swirled through the space between us landing comfortingly in the pit of my soul.
He finally ventured on through the line and partook of his meal. Often though, I caught a glimpse of him as he looked over at me, smiling that smile that continued to make me thankful that I had come. I could sense from the look in his eyes how grateful he was that I knew him. My heart went out to him.
The man, after eating his meal, wandered over again to my side and continued to share with me his words and his smile. He relayed how he had visited an elderly lady doing some odd jobs for her and how he had refused her money when she offered to pay. She only needed someone to talk to he commented, she was lonely. He was genuinely interested in my disabilities; it was clear as he spoke. I sensed his caring heart and sincere interest in those outside of himself.
He may have come to partake of a meal and fill up his stomach, but he gave much more that day than he ate. I thought I had come to feed the needy, but it was he who nurtured my spirit and fed me. A Homeless man truly taught me, in giving to others; we best cure whatever it is that ails us.