Our van pulled off the highway at the Bank Street exit. We were six cars back, but I saw the scruffy guy holding the sign that said; "HUNGRY. Every bit helps..." The teenagers I was chauffeuring began to squirm in their seats as he drew near. I could tell the young guy in my front passenger seat was dying to press the automatic lock button to his right. But I had another idea entirely. I asked the boy in the middle to look under my seat for the baking tin. I asked him to pass it to me. And when the hungry man came to my window I offered him a lemon tart.
"Oh, thank you ma'am! God bless you!" And in a unrehearsed, raw, heartbreakingly genuine way, he tossed his sign on the grass by the side of the road and began devouring that tart with such fervour, had I not been driving away, I would have offered him the whole tin.
Maybe these men and women take the money we give them and spend it in a way that we deem
"unstewardly." But no matter the habits they have picked up along the way, no matter what ends to what means, they are living a hard, hard life. And they are walking up and down those highway exits because an unpleasant road has led them there. Our hearts should be soft when they tap on our car windows.
Now, one month later, I have received word from one of our inner city missions. I had asked what I could do to help, even from such a distance. She said I could bake. I immediately thought of that lemon tart. I can do that. My kids and I will stir ingredients together each week, and pray together than that food brings another soul off the streets and into that building where they will meet kindness and hope.
It's a start. A small step. But, even a little goes a long way.