It is our tradition to ask newcomers to reflect on their experience once we’ve closed up. A woman spoke from a place deep in her heart when she said that her experience here reminded her how blessed she was. “When I need food, I go to the store and buy it,” she said. “In a different set of circumstances, any one of our clients could be me and my family.”
A man across the room who has been among us for a while now raised his hand to speak. “I used to be one of those homeless guys. I was addicted to crack and alcohol. I slept under bridges, in abandoned houses, in other people’s cars. I spent eight years in prison. I was a criminal when I was using crack and drinking. One day I was sleeping in a basement, and I prayed to God to take this away, to take my pain away. That day a man invited me into his home. He gave me a nice meal, a shower, clothes, and a place to stay. And I realized that God had answered my prayer through this man.
“I don’t use drugs or drink anymore. I don’t steal anything anymore, not even a grape at the grocery store. I haven’t been to prison for more than five years now. I came here because I needed food, and somebody asked me to come back and help serve. So now I do that. I am served here and I serve here. I am a part of this. I am struggling.”
This is our community. We are all served here and serve here. We are all struggling. And that is what it’s all about.