Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WASTE (10/11/18)
TITLE: The Dove In the Soup Kitchen
By Donna Powers
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I was looking for a relatively easy way to serve the Lord. So, when the pastor asked for volunteers to serve at that soup kitchen, I volunteered.
For the first couple weeks, I admit I avoided looking at the people we served. I realized they must all have had difficult lives, but what was I supposed to do about their difficult lives in the two hours I spent serving them soup; every other Tuesday?
But on one of those Tuesdays, I glanced over at one of the tables. On an unused corner of the table, there was what looked very much like a dove. I walked over to the table and saw a young, thin, quiet man twisting used paper plates, cups and straw wrappers into the feathers of that dove. He had a large bottle of glue and patiently used the glue to fasten strips of the plates and wrappers onto the sides of that beautiful bird.
It was amazing. This man had taken what could have been trash and turned it into treasure. And I had to wonder; if he could do that; what else could he do? I may not have seen any of those other people, but on that day I surely saw that man.
I edged closer and if I could join him. He shrugged; I sat.
His name was Leon. He told me he lived at a homeless shelter. When I asked about the dove he said yes, he was kind of an artist. He’d been studying art in college, but had become addicted to drugs and dropped out.
“But I ain’t forgot how it feels to make things, ya know?” He said. “My Mama always says my art talent comes from God, so I figure it’s here to stay no matter what happens in my life.”
I pointed to the dove and told him his talent showed. He replied, “Aww, man. That’s easy. I do other stuff, too. After I blew my chance at college, people told me I was wasting my life. But every time I had a chance, I’d find trash and make something beautiful out of it. So, I figure... I’ve still got some significance in God’s eyes.”
I assured him he did.
He thanked me. “We all do, ya know? God gives everyone some kinda purpose. Mine is art. So I go to places all over the city and look for stuff people throw away - and make it into statues or other art. I believe God can find something worthwhile in each of us, just as I somehow find art in the trash.
Later that day, I followed Leon to the homeless shelter - where the shelter director showed me a storage room he was allowing Leon to use. There, I admired Leon's art: statues of animals, angels and nature scenes that had realistic shapes and amazing beauty. All of them showed the hours of work he’d poured into them. None of them looked like they’d been made from trash. All of them looked ready to display in any uptown gallery.
Which is where you can now see them, for the next few weeks. You see, I own that art gallery, and I convinced Leon to allow me to sponsor his collection. And I have complete faith that once Leon completes his drug rehabilitation program, he’ll be able to use the profits from his creations to finance a return to art school - and the promising future I believe God has in store for him.
I still go with the church group to that soup kitchen every other Tuesday. But now my eyes are wide open.
Because - just as God wasn’t through with Leon, yet - I’m ready for God to show me others who might also be His undiscovered treasures.
"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair". Isa 61:13
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