Lent Day 27: On Human Dignity

Collect:O God, who renew the world through mysteries beyond all telling,
grant, we pray, that your Church may be guided by your eternal design and not be deprived of your help in this present age.

So today was the first full day of our mission trip here at Tampa. We started the day with Mass, then after breakfast, we split up into separate assignments and my group was assigned to a place called Trinity Cafe. It was basically a soup kitchen, except that the group has a professional chef that cooks high quality food for the needy free of charge.

Trinity Cafe’s mission is to provide the needy and homeless with restaurant quality food, not just for the sake of satisfying hunger, but also for the sake of giving them the dignity all men and women deserve.

Today’s meal was a beef and vegetable soup, a baked potato, roasted chicken breast stuffed with wild rice, chicken ragu, and green beans.

The volunteers were charged with either waiting, hosting, or bussing.

Hosts were assigned to a table, and their job is to interact with the people coming for the meals, waiters delivered the meals, and bussers took the empty plates when people were done and cleaned the area of the table so that another may sit and eat.

I was assigned as a busser, which then allowed me the opportunity to just observe how everyone without actually having to do interaction. One incident occurred where a I came to take a person’s plate because it was empty, but he became angry with me, saying he was still eating. Apparently, he usually acts that way, but all i could do was say sorry and just leave the plate.

Another experience was standing in the area where dishes, cups, and bowls are cleared out for the dishwasher. There was a man who had just finished his meal, wearing latex gloves and holding a plastic grocery bag.

He was sorting through our bins of dirty dishes looking for leftover food. If there was half a chicken breast, he would grab it and put it in his bag. If there was a bowl of soup with some soup left in it, he would pour it into the bag. If there were some uneaten vegetables on the table, he would scoop it up in his hands and put it in the bag.

He did that for 30 minutes.

I felt terrible because I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there and watched him do this. The other volunteers of the Cafe just looked at him and let him continue too.

I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t know how to relate.

In working a way to restore human dignity, I saw this man literally pick through discarded food so that he could take more away. Not even in a container too, but just a plastic bag.

There was no dignity in that.

All I was able to do was pray for that man, and all who are in need.

All we can do is pray and work. Thank God for our blessings, and then work, hoping that what we are doing is our path to Heaven. Let our work give us the dignity of being more human and more for God. And let our work give others the dignity of knowing that they are blessed and equally children of God.

May all who are working continue to work for the sake of others, and may all who are learning continue to hone their talents for the sake of others, such that they may be able to serve to the best of their ability.

Lent is almost over. Have a blessed one

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