Thanksgiving Day is when we give thanks and reflect on our blessings. Many have posted daily gratefulness leading up to and including Thanksgiving via social media, commercials reflect families gathering together around a large table adorned with food as far as the eye can see, a roaring fireplace in the background, candles flickering in grandmother’s silver candlestick holders. Everyone has a smile, everyone is comfortable. But that is not always the case. Walk with me, and I’ll show you.
There are many who look at Thanksgiving as just another day amidst the chaos they are enduring. This chaos can include loss of a job/income, family and your home. It can include wondering where your next shower, meal and a bed will come from. It can include not having an ounce of hope left. On Thanksgiving morning, I climbed onto our mid bus and with Mike Servais, Ex Dir of Marketing and Development at the wheel, we set off in search of finding folks who were hungry and had nowhere to go on this holiday that when defined, means togetherness.
We drove down the various downtown streets of Nashville and came across a park where many were gathered, bundled up with plastic grocery sacks containing all they have in the world. Mike parked the bus and walked over to where they were sitting. He asked “who was hungry, that we have a feast waiting for them and we will bring them back here afterward.” Many got up out of their seat and shuffled over to the bus. They selected a seat, smiles on their faces. Folks from every walk of life and background were on that bus. Conversations started and many met for the first time, chatting candidly about their lives, the weather and who their favorite football team was.
I remember looking out the window and catching a glimpse of a very nice restaurant. on the corner Individuals, dressed in their best, waiting patiently outside for the doors to open so they could be escorted to their table and then served their meal amongst friends and family. Then I looked back at our passengers. These folks will get to do the same thing at our Center of Hope down the street. They are wearing the best they have, they will be greeted at the door and shown to their table, they will be waited on and will have the opportunity to relax, eat until they are full and be surrounded by friends.
As I stood in our dining room, tears started to fall as I watched each and every person enjoy their meal. Some chose to eat in silence, savoring every morsel of stuffing, the richness of the turkey and the tartness of the cranberry sauce. Others talked the time away as they hurriedly ate in anticipation of the next plate that would be handed to them. I watched all of the smiles, the hugs, the thankfulness they displayed at this meal provided to them and how grateful they were for the love. It was the most beautiful thing to watch and I can’t imagine being around a greater bunch of people. I was blessed and honored just to be in their presence and I pray that we all take the time to stop what we’re doing and make time for others.
Matthew 25:35, “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”