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.

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  1. There are some people I talk to everyday. Sometimes they know my name but they usually won’t remember what I said. I look them in the eye and I smile hoping to bring some light into those eyes. We talk about the weather our kids, our grandchildren. And sometimes I wonder why I bother when they won’t remember what we talked about. Sometimes I am encouraged by their will to live,. by their will to continue the conversation. I have found renewed purpose here in this place for seniors in all stages of aging. The light in their eyes the smiles on their faces make me happy too. So…Iwill visit again tomorrow, my new friends on the 2nd floor.

  2. You’re one of my favorites, Karen. Thanks for your honesty, and your commitment to loving the homeless in a tangible way every week.

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