Cold day outside, damn cold. Lucky to get in as many as we did in here.
It’s so cold out there, in here they at least get something to eat and get out of the chill of another dire day in the frigid grip of a rough winter. So many more get nothing but the love of the underpass they sank themselves under, alone and one with the shadows and some old blankets, maybe a box. Me though, I volunteer in the kitchen at the local homeless shelter.
I’m a stirrer, a stirrer of everything. Just a stirrer at a soup kitchen. I keep the food in the cauldrons together, everything becoming something new and delicious as it cooks together over time. It’s almost like magic. No, I don’t add ingredients, don’t do anything fancy, have no recipes written down, I don’t even have to think! I just have to be, be in the moment of it all and keep stirring the pots. Our head chef, he’s big guy with a golden heart, puts it all in these big cauldrons and says, “Make sure you keep stirring these now, okay bud?” “Sure thing, chef,” I reply and that is it. That is my part in this. Just stir it until it’s ready to be served.
We’ve got a lot of big cauldrons. An old man once worked back here in this kitchen with me before he lost a battle to some awful cancerous disease. We used to call him “Charm,” because he was so lucky, always jazzed up about winning on scratch-off lottery tickets. Man, that luck ran out in the end, it would seem so for all of us.
Old Charm though, yes he told me that word cauldron. I used to just call them big pots before that, now they are cauldrons, great steely looking ones too. He just heard the word and liked it, same as me, but it turns out that isn’t the real definition of a cauldron at all. Cauldrons are what witches and people from old times made tea and soup and magic potions in. But like I said, he and I like that word and I still say it because to me, even though I am just a stirrer, I am part of that magic that goes in to that good food we give to those hungry people coming in from in the cold. And it brings up happy memories of that good old guy “Charm.”
Stirring is a meditation to me. All that stirring gives me time to think about my role in this whole thing we do to help people who can’t help themselves. I may just appear to be a stirrer, but there is a love in what I do that goes into all that stirring and when those hungry people in need eat that food, they get just a bit more to keep them going. I help get them a little something warm, something to give them a chance to hope for something better in their lives.
I see them smile again. They may not have too much to be thankful for, but tonight, they’ve got a warm shelter with hot food on Thanksgiving. There is always someone who has it worse; good thing to keep in mind. Tonight these people have it all right. Tonight, they don’t have to worry; just eat and be happy. Sometimes I daydream while I stir. I wish I could have a great big kitchen, with hundreds of cauldrons, all stirring themselves with magic. Then there would never be anyone hungry. Makes me happy when I picture it.
People always ask me why I smile why I stir this hot food in these great big cauldrons. There is so much I want to say to them, but I keep it simple. I just tell them, “Because we are magicians,” and get back to stirring.