This week has been quite an eventful one, full of challenges. After completing the London Winter Run on Sunday, my usual hip pain was surprisingly mild following the 10k. However, I’d already booked in to have ultrasound guided injections on Monday. It wasn’t as painful as I anticipated, however I did have to jump on the treadmill for 10 minutes to check whether it had worked. I don’t think my legs were quite ready for exercise again so soon.
Wednesday was an early start to get the first bus to the train station to get in to London. The company I work for sends a couple of volunteers over to Whitechapel Mission once a week to help cook and serve breakfasts to the homeless. This is the second time I’d signed up for the rota, and on this occasion I was on egg duties. By 9:30am I’d fried approximately 200 eggs to varying specifications.
The people who run the kitchen are some amazing individuals, who are up at the crack of dawn, day in, day out. They treat the users with the utmost respect and give them an opportunity to get a decent meal at the start of the day, along with a shower and a cuppa. They take the time to get to know each of them, showing compassion but being firm when it’s required.
I’ll be honest, I can be quite shy and uncomfortable when it comes to being in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people; I’m certainly not any good at small talk. Serving breakfasts to the homeless puts me way out of my comfort zone. I don’t have a clue what to say, beyond “how many sugars would you like in your tea?”. I start over-thinking everything. What if I sound condescending? What if they are aggressive? Will they think I’m looking down at them?
35‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Wow. What a challenge. When we serve the needy, we’re actually serving Jesus. Time to put my personal anxieties to one side and look at the bigger picture.
So today I bought my first copy of The Big Issue from a guy I’ve walked straight past every day for the past 18 months on my way to the office. I even stopped for a chat. He was so nice to me, we exchanged names and pleasantries, and wished me well for the rest of my day. Not so scary after all, and a great way to spend £2.50.