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.
March 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm
Fantastic work – well done them, and for recognising the dog as an equally valid being.
March 23, 2016 at 5:45 am
They’ve been hardworking and compassionate. A powerful combination. But now deserving of restful peace.
March 23, 2016 at 12:40 am
Hurray for good people, for good role models and always for dogs. In the soup kitchen of life, they are important ingredients and too many of them will not spoil the broth. Peace, Harlon
March 23, 2016 at 5:52 am
A beautiful analogy well written and quite true! Peace to you, Harlon!
March 23, 2016 at 6:03 am
A great post. We did soup kitchens with our youth group and I was always surprised at how humble and appreciative most of the people were! It was a good experience and one I’ll try to pass on to my daughters as well!
March 23, 2016 at 7:40 am
Thanks, Jason. I’m glad you had that experience. It would be a good thing for everyone to do some type of volunteer work at some point.
March 23, 2016 at 7:45 am
I agree! It definitely builds the heart.
March 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm
Very inspiring. I have two adopted kids that we adopted through the state. Once, as part of a community outreach event for my daughter’s softball team, we went to a local shelter to serve dinner. My kids looked around and had this strange expression on their faces. I asked what was wrong and they told me that they remembered living there when they were toddlers.
March 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm
Okay, I did get on this one and am leaving this comment. 🙂
March 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm
Thanks, Natalie. I could access your comment with my phone. Still having trouble, but I’m sure I will work it out. I appreciate your help!
March 26, 2016 at 2:18 am
this used to be my favourite hymn when I was a child
March 26, 2016 at 7:52 am
Oh, I’m so glad to bring back good memories! It’s definitely one of my top ten favorite hymns.