Hello Out There! I hope each day of this new year has been and will continue to be
wonderful! Something happened this week that stopped me in my tracks, brought
tears to my eyes, and made compassion fill up in my heart so fast I had to catch my
breath. I will tell you a condensed version of the story up until the important part.
Tuesday - 1/05/16
Went to Sam's to buy supplies for the Sack Lunch Ministry.
Drove back to church, where Muriel and I unloaded the supplies and stocked the fridge
and the pantry.
I decided to go into the Cathedral to pray before I left. I walked into the church, the
vestibule and just stood for a minute. It is always so quiet and peaceful during the day.
The lights on the Christmas tree were plugged in and there was a little bit of light
coming through the stained glass windows, but it was a cloudy day, so the sanctuary
was only dimly lit. I stopped to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and
then I walked further into the sanctuary and filled up my little container with Holy
Water. I walked up to the Tabernacle and knelt down to pray. It was so quiet in there,
and when I stood up to leave something caught my eye. I saw something blue on the
first pew in front of the altar, I walked toward it, looked down and immediately
stood still. A homeless man was sound asleep, lying on the pew wrapped up in a
sleeping bag, his feet clad in worn tennis shoes sticking out. He had two bags, one
on the floor and one next to his head. He was sound asleep, snoring peacefully and
my hand reached out to touch him just to pat his shoulder but I stopped because I
didn't want to wake or startle him so I made the Sign Of The Cross over him and said
a quiet little prayer for him. I stood there for a moment so overcome with this heart-
breaking yet beautiful picture, thinking about how the sanctuary where we worship
was a different type of "sanctuary" for him. He felt safe there, his tired body was able
to sleep peacefully because he knew he would be safe. I walked over to the kitchen
and grabbed some crackers, some nuts, some fruit and a bottle of water and walked
back to sanctuary planning to quietly leave the food by his other things but he was
already gone. I walked around the church looking for him, I drove around the block
but he was gone.
Wednesday - 1/06/16
I was helping Miss Rose (her name is Rosa but we call her Miss Rose) and I told her
about the man. She told me that he had come in on Tuesday for a sack lunch. He didn't
have a shirt on under his thin coat so she went to the pantry where we keep some extra
things during the cold months to help those who live on the streets. She took out a new
sleeping bag that had been donated from another Catholic parish (St. Ambrose) and gave
him that along with some warm cotton gloves. She said that he sat in the cafeteria and
ate and when he was through he asked if he could have another sandwich and they gave
him another one. Most people take their lunches with them, but they are always welcome
to sit and eat in the cafeteria if they want to.
Another lady and I went into the pantry and dug through the bags with gloves and socks
and we found a warm sweatshirt, it was brand new. We took the sweatshirt and two pair
of socks and placed them close by so that if he came back they could put the clothes in
another sack for him. He didn't show up for lunch on Wednesday.
Thursday - 1/07/16
The sun is shining but the wind makes it really chilly, especially if you have to be
outside. There are four of us handing out lunches today, we all talk about how
thankful we are for this ministry that helps so many. We wonder if the man will come
back. About 12:30 he limps in, he gets his lunch and sits down to eat. I get the sweat-
shirt and two pair of socks, put them in a bag and take them to him. He smiles and
thanks us. I go into the pantry and once again fill a bag with some crackers, some
nuts, some fruit and another bottle of water. I take it to him and he smiles and tells
us that we are too sweet. I tell him that we are happy to do this for him. He thanks us
and leaves. We close up for the day, but tomorrow we will once again hand out
lunches to those in need. This ministry blesses my heart as much as the food fills
their hungry stomachs.
I knew on the way home that I had to write a post about this man, this story, so when
I got home I fixed something quick to eat and headed to my office.
I got out my big old Random House College Dictionary and looked up the word
sanctuary. These are some of the different definitions:
l. A sacred or holy place.
2. Judaism, a. the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.
b. The holy of holies of these places of worship.
3. An especially holy place in a temple or church.
4. The part of a church around the altar; the chancel
5. A church or other sacred place formerly providing refuge of asylum.
There are some more definitions but I mainly wanted to point out #5 - I'm so
thankful that the man who was sleeping in the front pew of the sanctuary in our
Cathedral parish found the "sanctuary" he was seeking.
I am going to close with the refrain from one of my favorite hymns, if you have
read very many of my posts you will recognize it.
We are many parts, we are all one body, and the gifts we have we are given
to share. May the Spirit of love make us one indeed; one, the love that we
share, one, our hope in despair, one the cross that we bear.
Bye for now, Sharla