"I Want You"

The pizza was good last night, then for entertainment we chased a squirrel out of Mary's room.

Squirrels can be pretty scary when cornered, I found out.

Later a woman called, trying to find a place to stay for a woman with two young kids. I said we didn't have a room available. Then she got agitated, because she had called several places and they all said they were full. What was this woman to do, she demanded. Why wouldn't anyone help? I said we had couches available, but that wasn't a good place for children long-term, with all the people that came here for the soup kitchen. The woman became impatient and indignant, she even threatened to "write the editor."

That's when I started to get irritated. "Your indignation won't get you anywhere," I said. "I just can't believe that no one will help," she persisted. "Why don't you take her in," I asked. She paused then said, more quietly, "I don't know her."

I don't accept the idea that it is the "job" of charitable organizations to take care of people in need. Maybe people can take that attitude with social service organizations, run by government employees with tax money, but not with places like this, where everyone is volunteers and the money comes from personal donations. And Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan makes it clear that caring for people in need is not something to be delegated but should be done by us personally, when we encounter the need. This woman seemed to think that she was doing her part by giving money to charities (and demanding services for the mother and children). But what was needed last night was not money or anger but a place to sleep.

The woman's "righteous" indignation drained away when I pointed this out and we began to talk about a way to help. We finally agreed to let the mom and kids sleep on the pull-out couch last night and then try to find another place for them today. The woman seemed relieved and grateful.

And, after a pancake breakfast this morning, we did find another place. Those kids were beautiful, with bright smiles and curly hair. And they warmed up to us quickly. When we dropped them off, the little boy asked Heather, "Can you come with us?"