This evening i spent a whole hour on the verge of tears and laughter without doing either. I walked into a soup kitchen with 7 new friends to serve however we could. Having no clue what would happen, we arrived in amongst the singing of birthday songs.
Side point: I love Australians. I love how bogan we can be, i love how brutally honest and no nonsense we can be. And i love it how no one knows where i am from because my accent is so soft.
So we meet with this amazing woman who in a no nonsense way, finds out our names and puts us to work. The kitchen was busy, and the servers went back and forth from it, busy like a bee hive.
I have been involved in soup kitchens and breakfast clubs since i was younger, but this one felt different.
This one climbed high heights to make sure their focus was dignity.
It wasn’t anonymous soup being ladled out to faceless homeless men in grey coats (although that would bless many) These guys sat families down together and gave them a menu. Their tables were numbered and they were served by name to their table. The orders were so respected that a few times an order would be sent back as wrong.
At the same time as fighting for dignity, and for most it would be the only night they sat together in a week. It wasn’t a hand out. These lovely, no nonsense ladies explained to us that if the diners weren’t grateful, we were to imagine we were deaf. At the end of the night a lady found herself in the kitchen to thank us. It was commented on that it was a rarity to hear that.
These men and women who had been involved in the soup kitchen for years were not doing this for a spiritual high or celebrity status. They are working in amongst, as wikipedia says a “lower socio-economic area consisting largely of public housing homes, and has historically been known for its high rates of alcoholism, crime and unemployment.”
We laughed a lot at the end as more people joined us in the kitchen and said a lot of jokes and were genuinely hilarious. I made a little kid with a rats tale and little girl with my brothers name laugh for ten minutes straight. There was so much joy in that place. But my tears almost came because these people are forgotten by most. And these lovely other people had taken it on to commit to feed and give dignity to their friends and their neighbours. Not as a hand out, not as a superiority thing – because i believe each person learns from the other in that place. But with a servant hearted love.
I want to be that. I want to do that. I want to go to there.
So at the end when the first lady said that on Sundays they have breakfast church my heart jumped for the first time around the idea of going to church for years. This is the essence of my dreams: the creation of space for people. What better place than a dinning room full of food? Where children play, laugh and learn and parents are proud and accepted and given dignity to just…. be.
What better place than a warm kitchen full of laughter and an appreciation of everyones names and stories – a love that serves and is comfortable, a love that affects change.
People are beautiful and worth dying for. Not just my best friend Evan, not just my mother who carried me for nine months and not just some pretty lady – EVERYONE.
Lets throw ourselves into love like that.