Posted June 15, 2006 in MH Edmonton AB:
Through the Chapel Window

by Michael Fagan.

You may have seen a line-up for a soup kitchen, but you probably didn’t see it in quite the way Michael did.

It is my assignment and privilege to spend an hour in the chapel each day while the noon meal is being served at our soup kitchen downstairs. It is a chapel with several large, clear windows, and today the sun is shining brightly.

Before the door is opened I look out on the assembled line of men and women. It’s an orderly, peaceful group.

Also viewing the proceedings is another assembly, the pigeons on the roof. They continue to fly in just in time for the "grand opening." Like the five magpies perched on the tree and the small birds on the ground, they are awaiting their turn.

They seem to say, "Eat first, friends, but don’t forget to throw us a few crumbs on your way out." Some of the men and women do enjoy sharing their bread with these fine-feathered birds.

Our courtyard, a garden in summer, thanks to Patrick Stewart, is a place of peace and beauty. The entire scene, viewed from the chapel window, delights the eye and prompts me to pray for the poor so visible outside.

Towards the end of the meal, I see Shopping Cart Richard wheeling up the driveway. Leaving his cart parked outside, he goes in, quickly eats his meal, and then leaves to resumes his daily outdoor activities.

Our beloved foundress Catherine would have delighted in seeing this "knight of the road." This elderly, slightly lame man is an inspiration to see as he searches for various scraps in our garbage bins and elsewhere. One could say that he gathers up the fragments and puts them in his shopping cart.

He even hauled away our Christmas tree. I saw him from my window perform this silent charitable act. Where he put it, God only knows, and he’s not telling.

I am convinced that such men render a great service and are a blessing on our house and city.

Another day I saw a young woman in a very disheveled state pushing a hospital walker and navigating it down the stairs. I was told she’s a regular and is usually ornery and foul-mouthed in her poor state.

Such broken people, short of a miracle, are on a suicidal trip to an early grave. But we know in faith that God will have mercy on these children of his who, for the most part, are victims of our sins, neglect, and lack of love.

I see another touching scene from my window. A woman volunteer, who renders great service in our clothing room, is having a friendly chat with an elderly native couple who have just eaten in our soup kitchen. On leaving, the man turns back and gives her a big hug. It moves me to see such a genuine expression of gratitude and love.

Incidents such as these give purpose to our presence here. Disguised within the poor, Jesus at such moments reveals himself and heals our wounded hearts. These moments lift out spirits and strengthen us to persevere on our daily pilgrimage through life.

Perhaps the clichéd expression of Jim Guinan, a staff worker who died not too long ago, has meaning here: "Keep pluggin’ and doin’ the best you can."

It’s all worth it. Alleluia!

Michael Fagan, who spent a number of years on staff at Marian Centre, is now one of our elders stationed in Combermere. This article was written recently when he spent a few months there again.


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