I sat with the kids at an empty corner table and soon a bunch of ragged-looking strangers joined us. We took part in some guitar-led singing and a prayer, then filled our plates with yummy goodness.
I was quiet at first. After all, it can be difficult to have conversations when our mouths are full of food. But also there was a battle between love and fear going on inside me. You see, these strangers already happened to know each other and that made me the minority at our table.
Being the minority is usually hard and scary.
Yet Gainer's Lunch is our only outreach to the community (I told you our church is crappy) and it's amazing people are drawn to it. I mean, it's only a meal. That's it. Nothing complicated, just come fill your bellies and donate a few bucks if you want. Or not. Just whatever.
Some people arrive after the songs and prayer because they only want the food. That's okay. It's about serving and welcoming them, not getting them to meet a standard. One such person came late to our table today.
"Hi," I said. "I recognize you. I've probably seen you around town."
He joked that he came in his wheelchair. Except it didn't register with me at first that it was a joke because I'm slow with that kind of thing. Often, by the time I realize something's a joke the conversation's already changed and it's too late to laugh.
His name's Daryl. He is First Nations and lives on the reserve. We talked about his lawn-cutting that he does, his grandsons, what it's like to live on the reserve, his roommate, his alcoholism. Mostly I just listened because I was curious and fascinated. And I saw Christ in his eyes—the love that binds and captivates.
It's the same Christ I saw in Barry's eyes, too, and in the woman beside him. I'm disappointed I didn't catch her name, but she seemed comfortable with me and I believe I'll see her again. It's the same Christ I saw in the other two women as well, the ones who talked with me about parenting and schools.
When they left Daryl said it was great to meet me and maybe he'd see me again one day and take me on a date. I think he was joking, but I'm not sure. Sometimes witnessing to the opposite sex can be awkward.
All I know is fellowship happened at our table and I'm thankful for the experience.
People are so lovable!