Although I realize it’s so not about me, I almost always leave my monthly stint serving a meal downtown at the Salvation Army with a certain uneasy feeling, an unmistakable sadness. While we’re there, we cut up with the other regulars helping in the kitchen, we smile sincerely as we hand generous plates of food to hungry folks and we notice that the lines of those waiting for a meal never seem to get any shorter. Maybe the discomfort comes because it often feels as if we’re just slapping a band-aid on something that deserves far more attention and care.
After doing this now for several years, one would think it would become a routine matter, done out of habit, requiring little thought or effort. But I think it’s actually having the opposite effect on me. Every time I go, the in-your-face reality causes me to ponder the systemic injustices that work to keep people down. I’m forced to consider the deeper issues of poverty, lack of educational opportunity, inadequate healthcare and white privilege. And the inevitable, hard questions about what all this means as I seek to follow Christ with honesty and authenticity.
And so, I’ll live into those questions. I’ll keep asking, learning, doing, going. And while I’m fully aware serving this meal is “only” a band-aid, I will offer it with joyful presence, with hope, with humility. After all, as any child knows, even a simple band-aid can be soothing and healing when applied with tender loving care.