Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Smidgeon of Religion

We served 70 people last Sunday.

The new guy was so hungry that his whole body shook. He wolfed down the chicken and rice as I ladled it onto his plate. We had enough for seconds, and I gave him another scoop. So it went on another Sunday in Redwood City.

This is the ninth year of a local ministry to feed everyone who shows up at the Fair Oaks Community Center for lunch. Our church, along with three other Peninsula congregations, rotates responsibility for serving the meals. When it's our turn, we bring six or seven trays of entrees and four or five trays of salad to the center. A middle-aged couple from another church always shows up with a big pink box of doughnuts.

Marge brought peaches for each bag
On the way out each guest receives a bag lunch prepared by the parishioners of the nearby Catholic church. Marge from St. Pius was a little late with the bags. She thought that the sandwiches should be accompanied by fresh fruit, so she stopped by Sigona's Market, which charged her a greatly reduced price on 100 ripe peaches after she explained the need.

We lacked a priest today, so it fell upon me to say the blessing, our only smidgeon of religion. We Episcopalians aren't used to praying in public, but it's easy if you remember that there are basically two things to say in a prayer.

We forgot the large spoons, so we served with doubled-up eating utensils. The crowd, which started at 50 but grew to 70 by the end of the hour, was patient and friendly. That's what happens they see you working hard, stressed yet smiling.

A well-dressed white couple whom I hadn't seen before thanked us for the meal. We thanked them for coming. At these occasions one must maintain iron discipline over one's thoughts, eyes, and words. There, but for the grace of God, go we all. © 2010 Stephen Yuen

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