It’s Not for the Usher to Ask

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Many churches today
have a food pantry that never
had a pantry before.

I attend a church like that.
Some folks are well-fixed,
others poor, most betwixt.

Some had money before
but not enough now to pay
the mortgage and then buy food

so the pantry helps them
the same way it helps clients
it has helped for years.

Some folks in the pews quietly
support the pantry with
checks and canned goods

enabling the nouveau poor
to stand in line with the
forever poor on Mondays.

A neighborhood baker slips
into the church Sunday mornings
just prior to the end of service

and quietly stacks his trays
of unsold bread in the dark foyer.
He says nothing and disappears.

No one seems to know
who he is but the hungry
love his bread and word

of its excellence has reached
the woman who leaves church early
and always grabs two loaves

of French baguettes and is
out in the parking lot long
before anyone else and

drives off in a red Mercedes.
Perhaps she’s on unemployment,
low on food stamps or is still

making payments on the car.
It’s not for the usher to ask.
I simply hold the door.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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