I came home from the Wednesday Lunch Club, an outreach for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, feeling frustrated with myself. I had met the homeless man who was badly burned last winter when his tent caught on fire. He and I talked for a while, but, on retrospect, I seemed more focussed on helping him get food and clothing, than on hearing his story. Now I wished I had stopped and listened longer.
I set my disappointment aside. It was nearly one o’clock, and “Carol” would be arriving any minute for spiritual direction.
“I was pretty stressed out when I got into my car to go to a doctor’s appointment,” she told me after we began. “But Jesus spoke to me. He said, ‘Carol, look at me. I’m with you. You can do this.’ And I did. The appointment went very well.”
“Wow,” I said. “I love how you heard Jesus so clearly and how he helped you through that.”
“Yeah, if I listen,” she said dejectedly.
Carol longed for the freedom to always respond to God’s voice. “But something in me rebels,” she said. The times she didn’t listen and receive God’s loving direction seemed to negate the times she did.
“When you close your eyes and imagine Jesus knowing all this, how does he respond?”
“He’s compassionate . . . and understanding.” I saw her shoulders relax. Jesus seemed unconcerned about the times she didn’t lean into him; he was enjoying the moment when she did.
Carol’s visit helped me see my interaction at the Lunch Club differently. I thought I hadn’t listened well enough, and assumed that God shared my point of view. Maybe not.
I went over my conversation with the fellow I met. “Twenty-three cars went by before somebody stopped to help me,” he had said. More and more of the conversation came back to me. I was surprised by the details I had heard. I remembered asking him if he had a place to live now. “Oh, yes,” he said softly. “It’s nice. But they were sad to see me leave the hospital. They told me when I was there, I brightened up the place.” I looked at this gentle man and could believe it.
As I remembered all this, I too felt God’s compassion and caught a glimpse of a divine smile.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God
who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
∗ ∗ ∗
“Sue” is a regular at the Wednesday Lunch Club. She enjoys the camaraderie and, like many, often leaves with as much food and clothing as she can carry. However, by the time she gets home, she has given most of it away. “What else can I do when I see someone who is cold and wet with nothing to eat?” she says.
Last Wednesday, as soon as the volunteers locked up, a latecomer arrived. While someone offered him their sandwiches, Sue dropped her bag on the ground and pulled off the sweater she had just found and fallen in love with. She handed it to the man who couldn’t thank her enough.