Tonight was my last night at Dignity Diner, and it couldn't have ended in a better way: with our (4th Annual) Dignity Idol contest/talent show. Tonights entries consisted of art/drawings, singing, playing a harmonica, and a pie eating contest (with complimentary background music by another guest). All of which (well... except the pie, haha) were absolutely amazing. I love the opportunity to be pleasantly surprised with some of the hidden talent in this group of people. Not to mention the fact that the closing act (the harmonica) also came with a heart-felt witness of the strength, encouragement, and endurance God grants us.
Over the past 9 months, I have spent every Tuesday night with this group of 40-60 people. Many of these nights have included a time of Bible study (some of my regulars in this picture!). I will carry with me for a lifetime some of the stories and experiences I been fortunate enough to share with this community. I have no doubt that this community has "accidentally" shaped me into who I am and who I am becoming. On the train on my way home tonight, as I was reflecting on my time with them, I began to realize in a new way what an incredible experience this has been. I have been told by others in the church how incredible my work and dedication to this ministry has been, and I take that with appreciation yet also as a "grain of salt." All ministry has its own challenges, some are just more obvious than others. I began to look back over my time at DD and to reflect on what this work looks like as something of the past that I once did. For the first time tonight, it occurred to me in a real way that if I had known what to expect when I began, I'm not sure I'd have done it. I think I'd have been afraid, confused and anxious enough that my own walls of fear and uncertainty would have made our shared ministry very different.
This is yet another reason to be thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit. For the work in and through us AND those around us, for the ability to do things and jump into projects we don't know much about. For the opportunity to trust and jump, two feet in, knowing God will sort out the details. This is certainly not the first big project I've done this for (think South Africa, domestic violence shelter, etc). I pray it won't be the last, either!
I will miss the guests, our fellowship, and our time of study together. I will also miss the others with whom I volunteered every week. For Kara and Connie and Steve (the pic is of Connie and Steve tonight!), who are there every week, and for the fun I have with monthly volunteers such as Dave (who was there tonight), Mary Pat, and Kathy. I am a better person because of the short time I was able to get to know and be in service with them.