It was a sunny day today and not too cold. There were new faces among the volunteers and there were many, many new faces in the line of those asking for a bag of food at the Clare House Food Pantry. I especially see in my mind and heart two women in their early twenties who were at the front of the line. Usually the first two in line have been old regulars who start lining up at 9 in the morning, maybe because they don’t have much else to do. I took the time to talk a bit with these two women and so they’ve become part of my prayer today. I’ve been handing out food at the Pantry for 18 years now and it still softens my heart each time.
Today, we had a volunteer who has his own style and a deep seriousness. He is determined to be the most effective bagger and date checker! Moreover , he is an unemployed microbiologist with just a wall standing in between him and the two 20 year old women.
We are in the middle of our big food drive of the year at Clare House, the time when we get the majority of the donations that will allow us to stay open all year. It isn’t going very well, just like our economy. But, there is a deep trust here that God will provide and we will continue to be a presence for our brothers and sisters. We have had around 60 to 80 people come for a bag each time we are open. Today, there were 140 people who came for food. We had surprisingly made around 140 bags. Towards the end of hand out I went wild making up 10 new bags because there seemed no end in sight. No, we really had just enough today.
I seems like my prayers can’t be articulated today. I don’t want to find just the right words to speak my soul to God about these sad days for so many. I hope that the compassion I feel strongly today is the right kind of mumbling prayer to our God of love.
On your image of felt compassion being prayer: I’ve been thinking often lately of how sometimes prayer can only be an offering of whatever we sense our inner state to be at that moment.
Some days I feel not that rich compassion that welled up in you, but a sense of my heart’s own constrictedness. Some days, when I have worked too long or too hard, or when something has troubled me or someone has withdrawn emotional support, I can feel more numb than open to the world. If I dip below that numbness, I can feel any other range of emotions–hurt, fear, or some other feeling that blocks feeling safely connected to the world. But these days I find myself instinctively accepting those states when they arise (so many reasons for humility!)–and offering my awareness of them, my being with the heart’s littleness just then, as a form of worldless prayer.
At those times, I think too of the Little Drummer Boy, who had nothing to offer the newborn Christ except a drum song–whatever rhythm he could muster just then.