On Monday, I attended a celebration of life for E. L. Nunn – a man who served his country and his community for most of his life.
E. L. and his lovely wife, Margaret, started attending my church way earlier than the 30 or so years I’ve been there. During his retirement, E. L. ran the soup kitchen which operated out of our church for many years, until the program grew into Good Shepherd Ministries and moved to a bigger location to include an overnight homeless shelter.
When my son got suspended from middle school for fighting in the late 90’s, I asked E. L. if he could come work at the soup kitchen. I didn’t want him watching TV at home all day. E. L. was fine with the idea, so I dropped my son off on my way to work. My son spent the next few days making sandwiches, serving lunch and socializing with older, retired volunteers. He said he liked working at the soup kitchen and thought the old people were cool. I think he would have preferred to continue there, but he had to go back to school after a few days. If my son hadn’t gotten suspended, he might not have had the positive experience of working at the soup kitchen with E. L.
At Monday’s life celebration, one of E. L.’s friends told a story about the early days at the soup kitchen. There was a story about one of the guests causing a disturbance: E. L., who was a tall man, came up behind the argumentative guest, wrapped his arms around him in a bear hug, picked him up, and carried him outside. And that was that.
Another story was about E. L.’s wife, Margaret who still graces our presence. In the early days, they weren’t sure how many people they’d be serving at the soup kitchen and didn’t want to run out of food, so they started off with the rule that each person could have one sandwich and one bowl of soup until everyone had been served, then if there was enough, people could come back for seconds. Margaret was serving sandwiches when a tall Native American man asked for another sandwich. She said, “I’m sorry, but we can only give one sandwich per person until everyone has been served.”
“I want the extra sandwich for my dog,” he explained.
Margaret remembered seeing this man on the street with a shaggy dog. Then she remembered the hymn: “All things Bright and Beautiful.”
She smiled and gave the man an extra sandwich.
I love Margaret and E. L. Good People. Good role models.
The photo, “Ladles,” is by Borja Fernandez via FreeRange Stock photos.