Friday, December 2, 2011

We Were Graced

I went there as part of my work day.  A program I supervise was starting a support group on the premises.  I expected to check out a room and - if it was appropriate for the group - give it my okay and head back to my office.  I did not expect to be moved and inspired and motivated to do more and give more of myself and my own resources.
And so it was that early this morning I parked outside the Pomona Valley Christian Center on the corner of Garey and Ninth Streets in Pomona.  To get inside the church I had to wind my way through a crowd of the down and out -- men, women, dogs, shopping carts filled with worldly possessions, plastic trash bags containing the rest of the worldly possessions.  They were all waiting for breakfast.
Inside, I was introduced to Bishop Herbert S. Wilkins.  He was flipping pan cakes -- hundreds of pan cakes.  And he seemed so happy.
Last month this little church served one thousand six hundred eleven meals.  The month before, it served one thousand four hundred twenty-four meals.  On Thanksgiving day the church fed over one thousand people a sit down holiday meal.
On this day everyone got a plate of three pan cakes and a sausage.  Everyone.  When I was offered one of the last plates (everyone else had eaten), I sat down and ate.  I enjoyed every bite I took in large part because that meal symbolized more than hot cakes and syrup.  It symbolized the nourishment and the hope this little church provides every day proving that flour and milk and baking soda can become sacred.
Day in and day out anyone who is hungry can get a meal or two a day at this little church.  No questions asked.  "We were graced with a Muslim family on Thanksgiving day," a man holding a tray of plates told me.
We were graced.
The only place for our group was the sanctuary and it told the story of the church's mission.  On one wall there was a large cross.  On the other wall there was a large refrigerator.
I can't imagine a more appropriate place for people to gather for a group offering a different kind of support and nourishment.
We Were Graced.

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