“O God you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water” (Psalm 63:1).
I was out of sorts on Tuesday morning before Manna House opened. I am not sure why. Some of it might have been the tedium of folding the laundry from Monday’s showers. Some of it might have been my own neglect of time for quiet and prayer. Maybe I was just tired. At any rate, I found the opening verse of Psalm 63 from the Liturgy of the Hours to be spot on. I felt spiritually parched. I was a thirsty soul.
Then Ashley called me to the front door, twenty minutes before we were to open. A guest was complaining about another guest taking her seat on the front porch. The accused guest was forceful in her defense. She also punctuated her comments with plenty of curse words. I am not Solomon with a wisdom to make discerning judgments. So my response?
“You can both go.”
This set off a round of recriminations now aimed at me instead of each other. And a third guest decided that he would get involved to adjudicate the situation.
“You can go too,” I responded.
As they left, I heard one make an angry assertion that I was not fair—probably true. I heard another question my Christian faith—a worthy question.
And then the last parting shot came, “You need the people here to make money.” That last one made me laugh. No one is paid to serve at Manna House.
I went back inside to continue folding laundry. Other volunteers began arriving to help with laundry, to get the coffee table set up, and to prepare the clothing room for the showers that would be offered for women—the normal preparations for Tuesdays.
Once we were open, the morning moved along without incident. Then, about an hour in, the man I had asked to leave, came by the front gate.
“Can I ask you a question?” he asked me.
“First, I want to apologize. I should have kept my mouth shut.”
“I’m new here. Tell me about this place.”
I explained the days and times we are open, and what we offer each day. And I added, “We are all volunteers. There is no paid staff.”
“I’d like to get on the shower list for Thursday.”
I wrote his name down on the list.
“Can I come back in for coffee?”
“Yes. Welcome back.”
By the end of the morning I was no longer out of sorts. I felt like some graciousness had been extended to me, by this guest willing to come back and try with me again, by the other guests and volunteers who made for a peaceful morning, by the warming sun that promised a beautiful spring day.
The next verse of Psalm 63 floated back into my heart, “So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and glory.”
The love that flows continuously from God, even when I am too hard-headed and hard-hearted to notice, had gently brought relief to the desert in my soul.