Last Thursday we took part in a "big event" out at the Opportunity Center just across the street from "the Corner."
A number of our community partners showed up to be with us.
We served several hundred meals.
People were pleasant, engaging and joyful--on both sides of the resource line!
The folks who came with the meals did a superb job in delivering them. It wasn't just another "hand out.' The volunteers from this company really spent time with the homeless poor who came to retrieve a box lunch.
But, simple "retrieval" wasn't possible with this group.
If you came, you talked to these people, both at the service line and then in lawn chairs arranged for conversation!
For them, it wasn't about the meal.
No, it was about the common humanity of everyone.
In the midst of it I walked up the street a bit to invite others to join us.
As I walked, I spotted him.
A man, slightly built, about 60-years-old, I'd hunch.
He looked ill.
His skin tone was deeply yellowish, betraying possible liver disease.
He was sitting on the curb resting his feet on a drain opening.
I invited him to join us for lunch.
The only word in his reply that I could hear was "sick."
"Are you feeling sick," I asked. "Do I need to call for a doctor?"
"No!" he snapped back. "I said, 'I'm sick of stale sandwiches,'" he explained.
"I'm sure you are and I'm sorry," I replied before retreating up the street further.
He told me the truth. (Actually, the sandwiches this time were boxed, beautiful and not stale, but this gentleman had been to plenty of our rodeos!) He'd eaten my sandwiches before and he was tired.
In reality, what he was tired of was having to depend upon and settle for what I decided to bring his way.
He wanted more, and he wanted more on his terms.
I wasn't offended at all.
He just told me the truth as he saw and experienced it.
I left our encounter more determined than ever to work for the development of more permanent supportive housing.
Someday, I hope to watch him move into an apartment of his own where he can prepare his own meals, as he likes them.
If I'm lucky, maybe he'll invite me to dine with him in a home of his own.