One awkward aspect of social gatherings involves encountering someone who expectantly asks,”Remember me?” And I don’t. Usually, I remember the face, if name’s lost in space. But now and then, I have to confess,”I’m so sorry, I don’t remember. Please refresh my memory.”
No one likes to be forgotten, lost in the shuffle of life, unless you’re hiding out for some reason or ill.
Last week, Matt asked if I’d like to come with him to help serve a meal to a group of homeless women. Basil, and Moira, a family friend, came along. St John’s, their church, volunteered to cook and serve. Paul, business man but chef-for-the-night cooked; we just needed to set-up, serve and clean-up.
Eleven women showed up with bed rolls and few possessions, ready to eat and spend the night in the building where Matt works as the Public Health Officer for Marin County. Many of the women seemed drawn to Basil and Moira. Children. Safe.
Paul impressed me with the healthy, appealing, and tasty food he’d prepared for the women: chicken with mushrooms and herbs. Another woman baked Snickerdoodle cookies and made a salad of finely chopped Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, fresh grated parmesan cheese tossed in a lemon dressing. Nothing slapped together. Delicious ways of saying, “I remember. You matter.”
After all were served, we with homes, spread out among the homeless. Some looked like they didn’t belong, others fit the stereotype. Some smelled and wore the layered look of many homeless, others looked like they’d just left work to come have dinner with a few friends.
After the women left for another part of the building where they’d spend the night, Paul said as we cleaned up, “There but for the grace of God…”
It’s frigid today in Gloucester. Blinking pedestrian lights at the first circle on 128 in Gloucester, required that I stop the car and wait. A hunched over homeless man, face buried in bags, struggled to push his battered grocery cart across the street. Both wobbled under the weight of stuff. Another man, better dressed, walked beside the overburdened man, carrying bags that must’ve toppled off the cart, salvaging more of what mattered to the one he’d come alongside to help.
That moment, felt to me, like God showed up to answer one homeless man’s silent cry, “Remember me?”
Before going to bed, I’ve been reading Frederick Buechner’s, Listening to Your Life. As I’ve been writing this, it brought to mind the reading from January 16. Buechner writes,”When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you…if you forget me, part of who I am will be gone.”‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,’ the good thief said from his cross.’ (Luke 23:42).’ “There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.”
And God remembered.
And still does.
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