As a congregation we go to make and serve soup about every 6 weeks or so at the Salvation Army Outpost down on Central Avenue. Yesterday this was our responsibility again. MJ was there early making the soup. I got there at about 10 am. There are things to do ahead of time – buns to cut, butter and prepare. Tables to set up, coffee and juice to make. There were about nine of us – all ages pretty much – getting ready.
We served 150 or so bowls of soup. It was great soup too. I had a bowl myself sometime in the course of the day.
At some point in the process of serving bowls of soup, I sat down to chat with an older woman who had brought her own package of what looked like chicken strips and fries. Maybe she was just there for the coffee, who knows. But she was there and not a real part of the usual street people crowd. I made some small comments about the weather asking how she was doing, etc. Just small talk to say how are you.
She began to chat, telling me about her husband who was now up in a nursing home. Perhaps her own memory not so sharp any more since she couldn’t remember the name of it, just that it was by the hospital. She had children who “followed the Lord” going on some mission trip to someplace that she couldn’t remember either. She sort of rambled on for awhile and I found myself having to make a deliberate effort to give her my attention.
I wondered a bit if I should take my leave from her and get back to my business of serving soup but she seemed lonely and needing to talk. So I figured that talking to some lonely woman was at least as important at that moment as serving someone food. So we talked and as I finally got up to go back to work, she thanked me for the visit saying, “I don’t get to talk to someone very often. I’m just an old woman and most people don’t bother to be nice.”
That was my blessing for the day.