Pain is something that we all relate to because we have all experienced it.   Physical pain is usually evidenced  by a visible wound, limp or grimace on the face.  Emotional pain is little harder to detect at times as we are good at suppressing it in public.  If emotional pain was as tangible as an open physical wound, I dare say we would be wading knee deep in blood.  I got this mental picture as I walked among the 100+ guests that visited the MACC Charities Community Kitchen today at the noon hour for a hot meal.  I was compelled to stop and talk to a few of them.

I met a mom that comes every day to share a meal with her 4 under school aged children.  The other two  of her six children were in school. Another couple was elderly, on a fixed income with many health issues that cost out of pocket money.  They started coming to our kitchen a few years ago when told by a friend that they could save the $20 a week that they spent on eating at the senior center if they ate at the community kitchen.

Most of people eat their meal in silence, heads bowed and have few smiles to share.  I felt their pain, not in words but in observation, the way they postured their bodies and the their lack of eye contact.  Even when they did  looked up at me, the light was gone from their eyes and I wonder if that was hope that was missing. It made me  sad.

On my way into the kitchen the second time today,  a beautiful child of about 4 years with dancing brown eyes looked up at me and when I smiled at her, she caught me off guard as she reached to hug me, I quickly looked at who I thought was her grandmother and asked if it was okay to accept her hug and the woman said “yes, she must need one.”  I opened my arms and the little girl threw her arms around my neck and squeezed tight.  The feeling was incredible.  When I told my staff what happened and the grandma’s  comment  that she must have needed a hug, one of my co-workers said “or she knew you did”.  Wow is all I have to say.   Maybe God sent that child to  ease my pain as I walked among the emotionally wounded.  My pain was eased and I felt comforted.  I hope that is what the community meal does for our guests.

Someone recently asked me to share an experience, good or bad, that moved me enough to want to talk about it with others.  This is one of those experiences that was laced with both bad and good at the same time.   It was enough for me to want to share it.  I hope it will inspire us all to want to reach out and comfort someone who needs it.

– Beth Stafford, MACC Charities CEO/Executive Director

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