A short story of gratefulness from Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Max had to get an early start on Monday.  Three times a month it was the most important day of the week and he did not want to be late.  It was quite the walk to the Methodist church but he felt he was up to it.  Anyway, he did not want to ride part of the way on the bus as that seemed a waste of money.  If he had a good haul, however, he would definitely consider public transportation on the way back.  Even though Max was not a Methodist, he was headed to the Methodist church.

Next door to the church stood a small wooden building.  It was painted grey, like the church building, and it seemed too small for most uses.  No one recalls why the building was there originally, but now it served as the neighborhood food pantry.  Three churches participated in the collection of goods.  Each took 1 Sunday a month to collect canned goods and non-perishable items at their services and then bring them to the pantry.  The Methodist church got the honor of running the pantry, because it had the extra space and the Reverend Lawrence J. Shepherd had the time three mornings a week to hand out goods to those in need.  The fourth and sometimes fifth Sunday of the month found no collections and the food pantry was likely to run out of food.  In the final weeks of the month the Reverend Shepherd asked his own congregation to consider bringing in items again.  If there was a fifth Sunday in the month, the good reverend was practically begging.  He would call local stores asking for assistance.  It was the small shops that would donate, never the big super markets.

UU doorIt was a good plan to be at the food pantry at 9 am when the Reverend came to unlock the door.  It was also a good idea to bring a sturdy bag with you, one that was good for carrying goods a long distance.  If you had no bag, the reverend always had some used plastic bags from the markets and the donated supplies.  People seemed more willing to recycle their old plastic bags then to actually give food or money, but the reverend was thankful for anything that would help him out.

“Good morning, reverend,” Max said in a cheerful voice.  Max always had a smile on his face and seemed to absolutely light up when he ran into anyone he knew.  People were as glad to see this happy person as he was to see them.

“Hello Max,” the reverend said.  “I think we have some good items this week.”  That pleased Max very much.  He felt quite fortunate to be getting good food.  It was not something that Max could afford on his own.

When Max was pushed out of his job at retirement age, he had little savings.  Almost half of his fixed income went to pay his rent.  The utilities and regular monthly expenses took about a third.  He only filled prescriptions that were of low-cost and skipped the others in order to stretch his funds.  The little that was left did not exactly cover the food costs.  That is why he saw the food pantry as a blessing that was bestowed upon the neighborhood in general and himself in particular.  He just could not imagine why he was so lucky to have the pantry.  He knew other neighborhoods did not have one.

After the reverend had gathered up a nice selection for Max, he handed him back his bag filled with goods.  Max was not one of those people who asked for specific things from the shelves behind the counter.  He was pleased with whatever he was handed.  “I guess we will see you next week, Max,” Shepherd said.  “Bless you.”

“Bless you too, reverend,” Max replied happily as he reached out and shook the reverend’s hand, just as if he was shaking God’s own hand right there in that little building next to God’s house.  Of course, it was not the house of Max’s God, but he figured they all pretty much belonged to the same supreme being.

Despite a brisk north wind blowing right at Max, he bravely made his return trip on foot.  He did not feel that being handed some excellent cans and boxes was any reason to turn around and throw away good money.  His fingers and toes were rather numb when Max got in the small apartment and finally sat down.  He would make the trip again the following week and the week after.  The reverend only allowed you to come once a week.  Few showed up on the weeks when there had been no collection of goods that Sunday.

Each Sunday Max made his way to his own church.  They participated in the food collection once a month and did their best to minister to the needs of the parish poor.  After such a fine selection of goods that Monday, Max felt it was very important to show up at church on time the following Sunday.  He greeted everyone with a smile as he walked in.  He paused at the back of the church where there was a small safe.  In the top was a slot to receive donations for the St. Vincent DePaul Society for the poor.  Max reached into his pocket and found a quarter, dime, 2 nickels and a penny.  He dropped them into the old safe.  Even though his coat and gloves were given to him by the Society, Max did not consider himself one of the poor.  Instead, he felt obligated to help out if he could.  He helped on the coat drive, the Christmas tree sale, the donut sale and other activities to benefit the poor.  Why should he not help, when he had so much?

As he moved up the center aisle, Max spotted an empty pew.  This meant he could get a nice seat on the aisle where he could look right down the middle and see the service.  He stepped in, knelt down and gave thanks for the bounty in his life.

18 thoughts on “A BOUNTIFUL LIFE

  1. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC March 12, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Heartwarming and bittersweet. There but for the grace of God go every single one of us – and will go increasingly more of us as we fall victim to poverty as the result of poor healthcare policies over the next four years – unless McDonald and his minions can somehow be stopped.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 1:34 am

      There but for the grace of god, unless we inherited millions and pretended we were go businessmen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Garry Armstrong March 12, 2017 / 1:09 pm

        Wonderful piece, Rich. We’ve had to use our local food bank a few times when things have been very lean.. So very humbling. But the folks running it are always sensitive and caring.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 2:11 pm

          There is such a food bank in the neighborhood. We are grateful it is there and I hope it continues in case I need it some day.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilyn Armstrong March 12, 2017 / 1:42 am

    We WERE there. We were at the food bank for a few years and all my stuff came from the Salvation Army. Even now, we are just a few steps away from there. It’s not a long fall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 1:45 am

      I can visualize it all in my mind, in this neighborhood. It is only a short walk away from reality.


      • Marilyn Armstrong March 12, 2017 / 3:06 am

        It can happen pretty damned fast. You lost a job. You can’t find another. You have no medical insurance. Your unemployment ends. You wind up on someone else’s sofa. You get food from the soup kitchen, clothing from the Salvation Army. Most of us get it back together again … after a while, but I’ve seen it happen to people who’ve been effective workers for years and one bad one and they are lost. And now, it’ll be worse. Much worse.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 3:12 am

          I have seen it happen to family and friends. I know how difficult it is to be without work. Now 45 and his minions are planning to make it even worse for the poor, old and unemployed.


    • Garry Armstrong March 12, 2017 / 1:14 pm

      I actually felt shame when I walked into the food bank. I thought of all the years of plenty and the stories I’d done about people who needed this help. It felt like a long fall. I wanted to obscur my face but the Food Bank people saw right through me and made it okay. Bless them!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 2:12 pm

        There is no shame in giving and receiving help. We all need one another.


  3. lwbut March 12, 2017 / 4:47 am

    Thought-provoking, and well-written!

    Meanwhile, the global corporations who should be providing work for more people the bigger and more profitable they get, choose to employ less here and more in third world nations, and pay what little tax they do overseas in tax havens. Worse – we LET them without fighting it 😦

    Apple and Google, to name but two, make billion dollar profits from Australians but pay almost nothing in tax to Australia. Somehow Singapore seems to account for abnormal production expenses that reduces Apple Australia’s net profit and therefore tax liability.

    Ever heard the term Economic Singularity?

    Governments are going to have to do radical things to ward off disaster. I don’t see the US being a part of the solution for quite a few years, if at all. 😦


    Liked by 1 person

    • Rich Paschall March 12, 2017 / 12:08 pm

      Singapore has been a tax dodge for a long time. That is why the tiny nation does so much business.


  4. swo8 March 12, 2017 / 3:04 pm

    I think what was so inspiring was the grateful spirit that Max possessed. It is through sharing and helping each other that we will survive. We give to Good Will and we also shop there. It’s the busiest store in town.

    Liked by 1 person

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