It was the week before Christmas, an already hectic time of the year at Hospitality House. Our Winter Seasonal Shelter was in full swing, with anywhere from twenty to thirty extra people, on top of the nearly one hundred current residents.
Having recently received word that our state grant funding had been cut in half - a loss of nearly $60,000 - I headed to our Community Kitchen, during dinner time, to grab some bread to go with the soup I had brought from home.
I was feeling less than optimistic, upset about the loss of funding; with administrative and budgetary demands weighing heavily on me.
I moved through the serving line, greeting the group that had so graciously prepared that evening's meal, put some bread on my plate then turned to head back to my office. Seemingly out of nowhere, an elderly lady, whom I had never seen before, touches my arm and says, "Come sit by me, I've got plenty left."
At first, her words didn't register. After all, I was just getting bread for my soup. As she looked down at my plate, she continued, "I will split the rest of my ham with you, I've got enough to share." She tugged on my arm once more and motioned me to walk with her.
It was then that I realized, this sweet lady was offering to share a meal with me because she thought there was no more food. She surmised that I had gone through the line and only been able to receive bread.
My tense body softened and I began to smile. I said to her, "It's okay, I just wanted bread." She repeated, "There's no need to go hungry, I'll share my plate with you." Taking her hand, I introduced myself, thanked her for her generous spirit and assured her that I was okay.
I never did get her name. In fact, I have never seen her again. I've asked around, no one here knows who she is or where she came from. She is not a resident (never has been, as far as we can tell) or Winter Seasonal Shelter client.
What I do know is that I was blessed that night. She took me out of my all-to-worldly worries and transported me to my soul - bringing me back to the essence of what we do and why we do it.
She lit a fire under my faith. She reminded me that we are more alike than different, that intentions can be pure and that a caring heart knows no stranger.
Now, I know what you're thinking, because I've been thinking it too...