In an interview about his book, Tattoos on the Heart (which I highly recommend to all who love Haywood Street), Father Greg Boyle says, “Delighting is an action verb. It’s being attentive to who’s in front of you. Somehow transforming interruptions into great adventures.” And speaking about his ministry with former gang members in Los Angeles, he says, “This place is full of interruptions. If you can correctly consider them then suddenly they become adventures that are delightful as opposed to things that pull you from your tasks.”
If you have been to the Downtown Welcome Table, you know that interruptions are a guarantee. They come in all forms. Someone stopping you in the middle of what you’re doing to tell you about their day. Maybe their whole life story. A dog is barking in the dining room while you’re trying to take an order. The fire alarm goes off right before we start serving food. One of our friends is having a difficult day because they couldn’t afford their psych meds. The examples are endless.
When we consider all that has to be done to make the Welcome Table happen each Sunday and Wednesday, it can be hard to not feel interrupted in the middle of a task, which can be frustrating. And most of the time, that frustration is valid. We are humans living in a society that is concerned with efficiency and expediency. We are also humans who sometimes have bad days and have lower thresholds for things being out of our control. I will be the first to say that some days I am quicker to get frustrated and less likely to delight in the beauty to be found in the midst of the Downtown Welcome Table.
But at Haywood Street, we are constantly inviting everyone, staff, friends, and companions, to prioritize relationship before everything else. To see these “interruptions” as invitations to encounter the divine within the person “interrupting” us. To actively delight in the ways that mutual relationship with our neighbors makes us all better. It won’t always come easily and we must all actively negate our instinct to be proficient, but the wonderful thing about Haywood Street is that we get to do it together.
So, may we encourage one another to delight in the beauty of the holy chaos that is Haywood Street. To slow down long enough to notice one another. To delight in all the tiny miracles that are happening in our midst. And to welcome “interruptions” as they are often invitations into relationship.