Today was a beautiful day down at the Hippie Kitchen, after almost a solid week of heavy rain. The sun was out this morning (as it still is) and people's spirits were much higher in response.
I really enjoy what we call "Table Wiping Duty", which is a job that we do during serving hours. It involves walking around the serving area (a large urban garden with picnic tables) with a rag or broom to give the pretext of working, but is mostly about keeping order and socializing with the guests. You really can learn a lot from the people who eat at our soup kitchen. It's a mix of people who live on the streets and residents of the "SROs" (single room occupancy hotels, used as low income housing). All are on the "bottom end" of the economic system for a slew of reasons.
Today I was a "table wiper" and I learned a lesson from a friend of ours whose name is Kin. I was just chatting away with him about things in my life and he gave me a heavy dose of optimism. "Don't think of things as a 'test'," he told me, "think of it as "enhancement". This man is always smiling, joking. Here he is, a resisdent of an SRO in the "homeless capital of the US" (Skid Row, LA), without much money, eating at a soup kitchen and teaching me about optimism! To me, that is amazing and beautiful. Material circumstances do not dictate your attitude at all.
(pictues: from the catholic worker photo page. Top, Katie wiping tables. Bottom, Marie watering the serving garden)