On Fridays

On Fridays, I feed the homeless.

I’m part of a team that gathers every week. We prepare food, organize the pantry, make sack lunches and feed our homeless guests. They are given hot meals, a bit of shade and a free shower.

Most Fridays I do my job (I’m in charge of bread), and when my shift is done, I go about the rest of my day as usual.

But every so often there’s a Friday like today. When I leave, I sit in my car and weep.

Perhaps it was the thick, humid air or the heat radiating off the pavement.

Maybe it was the smells – the combination of body odors, gas fumes, cooked onions and rotting fruit.

As they came through the line today, I looked every single person in the eye, smiled and greeted them like I always do.

But today, it hit me, like a punch between the eyes.

There are cravings that no bread can satisfy.

There are thirsts that a cup of water can’t quench.

There are regrets and shame that no shower can cleanse.

My weak smile can’t erase the loneliness.

I felt utterly useless today. I honestly don’t know what the point is. Why do we do it? Why do I go back, week after week. Does it matter?

I feel like a hypocrite, smiling and offering measly band-aids for gaping wounds.

There is so much pain and brokenness and illness and suffering and addiction and loss – and it’s written on the face of every single soul that stands in line waiting to be fed.

So… next Friday, I will feed the homeless.