Saturday, 3 December 2011

Soup for the soul

The more astute amongst you will have noticed nothing: ie the sum total of activity on here for a few weeks. Over the past month or so I have discovered new depths of meaning to the word "busy" which has meant that on my weekly sabbath I have been able to muster the energy to wander alone down an empty beach and drink in the strange quality of light as the weather shifts from insistent Northwest to sulking Southerly but not for anything else. It's nothing to complain about. I want things to change and many of the things I am involved about are because of present or imminent change, and it's all starting to ease back a little as the holiday season approaches.

Yesterday I had a gentlerday. I drove to Invercargill, had a chat with a prospective ordinand, talked to a parish about a prospective new ministry arrangement, talked to a techie about a prospective change to the diocesan website and drove home again. In between chats I visited the soup kitchen at St. Johns.

Every Friday between 11 am and about 1 pm  over 100 people drop into the old hall at St. John's Church in the main street of Invercargill. They are seated comfortably and given a free bowl of very good soup (yesterday: vegetable or pea and ham) a couple of bits of toast and a cup of tea. A small group of parishioners make the soup, serve it and clean up afterwards and some of them are, not to put too fine a point on it, not exactly spring chickens. They do it because, as in any other city, Invercargill has its share of vulnerable people and the regular as clockwork ration of nutritious food and a comfy place to sit for a while provides a little anchor point in the day for them. It is a safe place. A harbour for those who are more than usually storm whipped.  I sat and ate my vegetable soup and toast with a young woman who could not make eye contact with me. There was a group of aged bikers covered in tats and a young man I guessed to be the victim of brain injury. A friendly bloke about my age seemed to be there as much for the company as the food. The staff seemed to know them all, and engaged in familiar banter as well as the occasional more significant conversation. It was hard work for them as they served these fellow children of God. "go forth from this place and preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words" is a quote whose provenance I don't know but whose fulfillment I saw being lived out yesterday.


Beth Bretzlaff said...

Good to hear that the generous people of St. John's are still ministering through the soup kitchen. And I really do hope things settle down for you soon! Take care of yourself, Kelvin!

Wynston said...

As I understand it the quote is purported to have originated from St Francis of Assisi. It does not however appear in any of Francis’ writings. In his Rule of 1221 though, Francis told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, "Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds." It would seem likely that it has arisen in more modern times from that.

VenDr said...

I have heard it attributed to Francis (highly unlikely IMHO) and to various of the great 19th C evangelists. It's another by that bloke you often quote, Wynston, anon.

Alden Smith said...

Change is an interesting phenomenon. There is plenty of "Change Management, Change Agent" pyscho babble from the gurus, but I have found that change begins with the planting of a seed - and when something starts to grow - it can often take on a very, very interesting life of its own and grow in unexpected ways!that puts paid to any expert advice on how to manage stuff - But you know that already - good luck - I prescribe lots of solitude on long walks amongst the numinous as good as anything you will ever read in a book - but you know that too :>)

Merv said...

Once again - awesome photograph.
My prayers go out to what might be a container ship in the background.