Going home at night has rarely been as frustrating as it was last week. My pantry is full. My entertainment choices are endless. My house is warm. My bed is cozy. Remembering, however, that I have almost a dozen new acquaintances who have few of the above luxuries made those comforts a near-curse.
Stepping into the Miller Gathering Hall on Monday night, January 17th, I was greeted by 2 of our volunteers who arrived before I did, nearly an hour early. This pleasant surprise of eager workers already about their jobs set the tone for our week of service with Abraham’s Tent from January 17th-24th. The steady and diligent work of our over 75 volunteers made the week a joy for everyone involved. However, knowing the work was never about us is what turned that joy into a truly spiritual event. The work was instead focused on the 10 homeless men of New Haven who joined us nightly for a hot meal, some great conversation and laughs, a game or movie, and a simple cot for 7 or 8 hours of comfortable sleep before waking early to a warm breakfast, hot coffee, and grabbing a lunch on their way out to live again in the cold day where they call the outdoors their home.
For 12 hours of each day in our building, however, the men we came to love were as much a blessing to us as we hoped to be to them. Dustin’s blue hair and endearing Southern accent, Linwood’s constant laughter and gentle spirit, James’s guitar skills, and Paul’s quick wit are just a small example of the gifts we received from the men— gifts that are a daily reminder for us to share our own: not just resources of time, money, and preparation once a year with Abraham’s Tent, but also the subtle ways we treat both strangers and friends in Christian love as taught by our Creator. Thanks to the work of our volunteers, the leadership of our pastors, and, most of all, the bright attitudes of these men, Abraham’s Tent was a smooth and truly “God-sized” experience for all of us involved where such love was learned, given, and received.
Maybe if I can all reflect on this a bit more, I can go to my house each night not frustrated, but both thankful and hopeful amidst the reality of injustice toward these 10 men who are so very like me. May we all do the same.