Tales from the Street Angels
At the Women's Shelter a new resident approaches us. Thin and young, she says she is a yoga teacher. She has a headache because she hadn't eaten all day. She'd missed dinner at the Shelter (as do many residents). As she gulps her plate, her face changes, relaxes. She looks up and asks, "Do you put love in these noodles?"
A new guy receiving a plate for his first time asks "What church are you from?" We get this question a lot and my answer always is "No church, brother. We're just your neighbors who care and we like to share." The guy's face cracks open with emotion. He extends his hand and I shake it.
An older man at the park, an army veteran, juggles his plate of food and bananas. "You coming here week after week makes us feel good about ourselves. This whole past year you've made a big difference." I watch him disappear into the bushes, this man who seems to have nothing after putting his life on the line for the government. He is neither drunk nor on drugs.
One woman runs up to us as we sit on the curb outside the Family Shelter. She has a huge smile on her face, "I remember you from years ago! I was sick and you gave me lemon ginger for my cold!" She looks so gleeful at the memory, then a cloud passes through her eyes, it is now years later and here she is again. "My parents used to take us to feed the people when we were young." She says as she walks away, "Just like you, we'd sit on the street corner and offer food."
Angel Terry, auntie to the kids at the Family Shelter, takes her cup of juice and confides, "You know, the kids get so excited on Tuesdays. They shout 'Noodle Man is coming today!'" She sips her juice and wanders off, calling out "Merry Christmas!" to everyone. It is the middle of July but she feels the Spirit.
An older German man, one of our regulars at Ala Moana Park for years, says "It's so good that you continue to come because I don't eat meat and I can't eat much from the other places that serve food."
After feeding the crowd chow fun at the Men's Shelter, we pack up the car to a chorus of sweet "Thank Yous" from the gruff group that hangs on the street outside. One African American man calls out, "Gonna make a song and call it 'The Legend of the Noodle Man'." As we drive away he drums on his thigh and sings "Nooooodle Man... yeah!" In the dark nights of the soul, these Street Angel gatherings inspire songs of appreciation.