Community: Thesaurus – group of people, neighborhood, the people, kinship, cooperative spirit, similarity.
I’ve been mentally and literally taking some notes about the people we have been meeting when we go to Finley Park for Operation Soup and Smokes. Little by little they have been sharing their stories with us. I want to share their stories, but I also want to show them the compassion and respect they deserve.
I know that there are many that support the work at Finley Park but are unable to physically be there. So, how do I help them feel like they are there and share our new friends’ stories? I have on a previous blog posted about Bryan, because he is no longer with us. However, for future blogs about the friends that we are meeting at the park, unless they have given permission to use their names or pictures, I will only refer to them with an initial.
We can get so hung up on attaching a name and a physical description to describe someone, so I’ll try not to do that. Do you think that is why there are so many unnamed people in the Bible when it comes to some of the big life lessons? Point to ponder on there. Just thinking off the top of my head, the Good Samaritan, the woman at the well who was given living water, or the woman who wept at Jesus’ feet. When there isn’t a name, we can then more easily relate to the situation. Don’t worry though, God knows their name! Okay, I’m digressing.
Back to Operation Soup and Smokes and the people we are meeting. These are the life experiences they are sharing with us. I want to share one today.
R – Has been on the streets since he was 14. His father was an alcoholic, his Mother was not. Father was an “Army” man; always told him to “go in the Army”. R got himself in a “bit of trouble” when he was younger, so “that option wasn’t possible”. When his Mom died, he “just started living on the streets”, and “just doesn’t know anything else”. He works when he can with “Carnie jobs”. He fell from a Ferris wheel and hurt his back. His back really bothers him when he has to carry his duffel. He stays in a shelter at night. Right now he is storing his duffel in a warehouse. He has constant knee problems and they swell really badly. R is a friendly, cheerful and helpful soul. He shares what knowledge of life on the streets he knows and where to get help with the “newcomers”. He helps us set up and serve. He will tell us about people that need “a helping hand”, and introduce us to them.
On our last trip, he was eating some banana cream pudding and reminiscing about his mama’s pudding. He said she could make some “mean pudding”. He stopped for a moment. He told me that his father could be real mean when he drank. He said one time his father threw some pudding that his mother had made. He got quieter. I don’t know if he said his father threw the pudding at his mother or at the wall. But then, he looked at me and smiled, and said, “I went and ate it with her. I wasn’t going to waste it, she made some good pudding.” And he imitated taking pudding off his face and licking his fingers. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, you know? He didn’t have to tell me what really happened that day. I had a pretty good idea. There were some tears behind his smile. Sometimes there really isn’t anything to say out loud. That’s when I’m praying inside for guidance to either be still and listen or to speak. For R, he needed an ear to listen and a hug.
“Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” Proverbs 14:13
When we were leaving for the day, after he helped load up the cars, he stopped to tell me that he would be praying for one of the helpers who was scheduled for surgery the following week and the doctor.
Community – yeah, he’s a part of our community.