Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday Night Dinner at the Inner City Church--Part 2

I spent the week making lots of baked ziti casserole for our second trip to feed the homeless at First Lutheran. Last time we were there, we had 90 people show up for dinner. Last night, we had about 60. Luckily, the church has freezer space for the ziti that didn't get eaten.

Last month when we went, I spent time at a table, talking to the men as they ate. Last night, I spent most of my time cornered by a homeless man who was high on something (I thought alcohol, my spouse thought something else). He wept as he told me of God's love for us. He said incoherent things. We tried to talk about where we're from. He's from New Jersey, and he seemed to say he'd never met anyone from the South before. That could be true. There aren't many Southerners in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Here's the strange thing that I've thought about all night: every so often, he'd say something profound and strange. For example, he said that God knew all of us before he created the world. It doesn't seem profound when I type it out. But imagine a bleary-eyed man muttering slurry words who suddenly looks beyond us all, gets a joyous look, and says such things.

Maybe I wouldn't spend much time thinking about this, if I hadn't spent the month thinking about John the Baptist. Would John the Baptist's contemporaries seen him in the way we see the slurry-speeched homeless? "What's he on? Why does he wear those strange clothes? What's he always talking about in such a strange manner?"

I also had the angel Gabriel on the brain, since I'd written my morning meditation on him. Would Gabriel have seemed as equally strange to Mary as the homeless man appeared to me? Maybe that's too long a stretch--and yet, some of my best poems have come from long stretches. Something to think about in the coming days.

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