The Bread of Life in a Borrowed Cart

At the shelter, the phone rings.

The days are getting longer, and the streets run with the crystal rivers of melted snow. It has been Chicago’s coldest winter in nearly two decades, and it is taking its time in leaving. But today is a blow to its permanence. The day is not warm, not by a long shot. But there is something in the air. A white sunniness. The frost is over.

Whole Foods is calling. It’s only six blocks from the shelter, but I’d never been to it. I’d petitioned them over email once to donate food for a Thanksgiving feast I’d hoped to conjure for our homeless parishioners, and they’d never contacted me. So, I wrote them off as just one more big corporation anxious to shovel profits into its jaws. But here they were, coming through. They’d baked some extra bread and understood that I was always on the look out for extra food, and would I like to have some?

I said that I’d be right down, but was not very excited. In my budget, bread wasn’t much good, no matter how free. Bread meant butter, jam, turkey and ham, mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes, and several varieties of individually-wrapped American cheese singles. In short, it was a bad investment. But free food was hardly an investment and I was in no position to refuse. At best, it would make for a side item. I told Caleb, my friend and co-worker, the news and asked him to come along, in case there was more bread then I could carry back on my own. He was typically game, and this was no exception. I admired and admire his capacity for joy.


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