The Past Is Not Useless–Nor Are The Poor

Today will be practical…which helps the ball club. That means getting food for dinner, washing a car, especially the vacuuming, watching College World Series [Go, Beavers!] and pining for Buoy Ten in August, best Chinook and Coho fishing time in the Northwest.

And yet. Going through some pictures on MSN.Com…and articles…I saw a couple of items that brought focus…in memory.

First, a soup kitchen. Have shared this before, but for six years, one day/week [I eschewed golf and the Northwest was too far for weekly fishing trips from Chicago], I was a Soup Kitchen Chaplain for the Good News Church Soup Kitchen. Sure, there were regulars, as each day of the month, a church, synagogue or temple provided dinner for over 200 people.

Found it encouraging when we tagged an open day and posted a sign in our church hall for helpers, needing 8 one day each month, the signup exceeded by 500% what we needed. It was the first time in ministry people were angered when they had to wait to help, maybe even a few months. Sigh.

What triggered it was a statement I read this morning that “poor people should not be in top executive roles.” Well, if only Sam and Joe were alive. They came to the Soup Kitchen more than often. They became my “worship associates,” helping with communion and offering the benediction. I didn’t have to write it out. Their home was a cardboard hut they made in an alley, a tarp for covering.

Of course. Why didn’t they get a job? I cannot share, but it was worse than gruesome what happened to them. However, they were bright, wise and cared more than much for others. So. Maybe they were unkempt [at least their lack of sartorial splendor was never disputed], but I still pray in thanksgiving for Joe and Sam…that they are with God in peace through eternity. And they weren’t stupid or useless.

The other memory-trace I’ll call it. I looked at pictures of what has been and no longer is. Saw a wooden barn…and zoomed back to Eugene, Oregon where my second ministry happened. I met an artist, Jim Cloutier, who would look throughout Lane County for old barns or wooden bridges…and then paint them. He was better than good. We had met at church one day and learned we both graduated the same year from Portland High Schools. He shared how just a month before he visited a lady who had an old but well cared for barn…he showed me a sketch. She gave Jim permission to paint the barn—and include the history.

The next week, as I looked at Jim’s sketch I had the Eugene news on. And heard that a woman was just killed in a pedestrian/car accident. I gulped, holding the sketch…it was the same woman Jim told me about.

Not sure what should be made of this…but it said overall poor people are not dumb…and there may be reason they don’t have bootstraps and how life takes turns and twists. I remember. Some. But, hopefully it’s enough.

I don’t have pictures of Joe and Sam. But I still see them in my heart and am always grateful. And I now share an old wooden bridge and barn pictures…that triggers part of my past. My hope? You will not forget those events in your life that made you better. And, yes. Even some that made you [or I] worse. Hopefully and prayerfully, the better prevails…each dawning day.

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About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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