This page will discuss what Mission Integration is doing off campus and in the Baltimore community. Efforts include field trips, service, and more.
The Canticle Singer
It was one of those rare really really cold evenings on the Loaves & Fishes Van. The Van volunteers has prepared 250 sandwiches and 6 gallons of homemade soup. The Van followed its usual route through the city, looking for homeless persons in alleys where the cardboard villages are built each sundown, where overhangs provide a break against some of the rain and weather and wind, where the steam grates provide humid and sometimes dangerous heat against the night’s extreme.
At the corner of Saratoga and Cathedral, there was a man sitting on top of the grate, leaning against the building’s wall. The Van stopped and unloaded in its usual fashion, some ladling soup, others bagging fruit and a few sandwiches. The Van helpers approached the man, slowly and respectively, so as not to startle him. He was a bit out of it; alcohol was his companion that night. His toes, in wet socks, were exposed through slits, cut through the tennis shoes that were too short for his feet.
Gentle hands on the man’s shoulder helped to rouse him a bit, enough to explain that there was hot soup and sandwiches, and a new pair of boots if he needed them. Kneeling down, offers were made to help his frozen hands to remove his shoes. He, like so many, protested – not wanting to offend anyone’s senses with the stench of his unwashed feet.
The volunteers persuaded him to allow their assistance. Old, wet socks, exposing dirt and sores, were removed and replaced with fresh new, thick socks. The man accepted the gentle massage to his feet, allowing some warmth and flow to gradually return to his numb feet. With some tugging and pulling, the boots were maneuvered on his feet, and then laced up.
At that point, the man stood up and started to dance with joy. He could have been writing for the Lukan evangelist that night for he glowed with what could only be called a radiant joy, and what he said was fit for a canticle: “Blessed am I among all men on the street tonight, God has given me all I need”.
It was a moment that all who were present knew was not of their own doing. There was a sense of abundant life. There was an awareness that the man on the grate and the Van servers had all entered a small corner of the Kingdom, present here, but not yet, each of them doing, perhaps, that for which each was created. The van pulled off. The dancer continued his smile and waving goodbye. On that cold December evening, like some sort of street Santa Claus, the man cried out, “God bless you.” That evening, that prayer… was surely answered. God had blessed all who were present. Blessed in ways… that even now, this writer can hardly express. Like so many of the Lord’s teachable moments, the lesson is not always easy to describe. You had to be there.
— Sue Cesare
Loaves & Fishes, Baltimore, MD