My church has a program called Food for Friendship.
It recently celebrated its 21st birthday.
Budgeted solely from money donated by our 50 or so members, we provide a hot breakfast to the homeless every Sunday morning.
We also have a Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas gift for each person who shows up--all free of charge.
I've been a part of the program for about 15 years now.
Usually, the breakfast goes off without a hitch.
In all 21 years, I think the police have been called twice.
We've probably only asked a person to leave three or four times.
It's very safe. It feels safe. We've know many of these men for many years.
Often, I am reminded of the instability in their lives.
Tempers sometimes flare because of it.
Many, if not most of them, have no choice in being homeless.
They might be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Several are mentally ill.
Some are obviously physically ill--have wounds that take twice as long to heal.
One man, we think, is schizophrenic. Goodness knows he has no choice and even less stability.
He could take meds, and sometimes we think he does. His mood is more stable when he does.
Usually, he comes in off the street and is wound up.
Once he gets food, he calms down and is pleasant.
Today, he was fine when he came in, but got more wound up as the breakfast continued.
For some reason, his ire was directed at our breakfast program and the people at our church.
Something about the fact that our feeding the homeless only contributed to the homelessness problem in Austin.
We also could do better. We could provide more variety in our breakfast program. Expand what we do for them.
So, in a matter of minutes he completely contradicted himself.
Usually, I just let him blow. Today, I was having a hard time. I wanted to ask him to leave.
I was thinking, "You ungrateful lout! If you don't like it here, our Sunday mornings would be so much more peaceful if you didn't come."
I didn't say any of it.
I finished cleaning up.
I got in my clean, reliable car.
I drove to a Mexican place where I get breakfast tacos.
I ordered what I wanted on the menu without much thought to cost.
I sat quietly and ate without people wrinkling their noses at me and wondering why I was there.
I drove back to church and enjoyed the service in a clean, well-lit, climate controlled building.
I ate out for lunch, again without thought to cost.
I drove home in my clean, reliable car.
I sit, right now, at my computer--hooked up to the internet.
Tonight I will enjoy my television shows on cable television.
I will shower and brush and flush, without a thought to where the water comes from and if it's clean.
Finally, I will crawl in my very comfy, clean bed in my climate controlled home.
I will have someone to snuggle with and talk with before I drop off to sleep.
I have stability and choice.
He has neither.
I have everything.
I have everything.
He has nothing.
Even people that aren't mentally ill have bad days.
Today was his day to lash out at me.
I am so thankful for the ability to think things through before I say them.
It would have been impossible to "take it back" if I'd have said what I wanted to at the time.