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For several years now at the Meldrum site of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen we have tried to really focus on the weeks of Advent (the forty days leading up to Christmas) as a time of expectancy, hope, and waiting. The tree enjoys a place of prominence in the dining room, but undecorated and unlighted. The scripture readings from the Prophet Isaiah used at prayer sessions are filled with hope and longing for a better life, not only for the people of biblical times, but for our Soup Kitchen guests as well. We try to counter the commercial frenzy of the season with an emphasis on cleansing our hearts and making room for the coming of our God.
This Thanksgiving season as I enter into my final weeks as Executive Director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, my heart is filled to overflowing for all I have experienced in this position during the past eleven and a half years. I have been forever changed by the people I have met.
First of all, I am grateful for the guests of the Soup Kitchen, who have taught me about poverty, racism, faith, and gratitude. (“How are you this morning?” I ask, as I arrive for another day of work. “I’m blessed,” is the inevitable response. “I woke up this morning.” I know full well that they might have woken up in a cold, abandoned house—but they are “blessed.” What a lesson for me.
The Capuchin Soup Kitchen is saddened today. Last night, the Soup Kitchen’s Conner kitchen site was broken into and three computers from our Children Program’s computer lab were stolen.
I think Thanksgiving must be a difficult time for those who feel bereft or abandoned. I remember my first thanksgiving prayer with the children at the Soup Kitchen. Brother Ray and I had worked hard to promote prayers of gratitude among the children. One distraught 9 year old girl shouted out:“I ain’t thankful for anything. I don’t even know who my daddy is.” Her pain stayed with me for a long, long time—but eventually, her life got better and she often expressed words of gratitude.