Thursday, June 23, 2011

the clothes closet

every wednesday morning, i am the keeper of the clothes closet. inside this tiny, jumbled closet are mounds of second-hand clothes to be given to our folks at grace place. when the door opens each week, you never really know what to expect, but one thing is always promised-an adventure.

last wednesday proved to be particularly interesting. it was my first time running the closet myself, and i was slightly nervous about handling the situations that would arise (because, like i said, it's always an adventure). let me preface by saying this is not an extensive operation we are running. our clothes are very limited-we often don't have enough of certain items to go around, and our sizes are makeshift fits at best. we work with what we've got. it's funny how giving out clothes to people will send your mind spiraling into theological circles. i wrestle with what clothes to give people-is that shirt nice enough or too messed up? would i feel dignified wearing that? does this clothing treat them as an equal brother or sister? and then there are the reactions you get afterwards: there are those who are always grateful for what you can give them, despite my apologies for our limited offerings; then there are those who are never satisfied, and boy, do they let you know it.

my very first clothes closet customer was a new guy to grace place, and for the record, he was already crabby and in a hurry when he approached me. since he was first in line, he got first dibs on sizes we had. i gave him the pair of shorts he asked for, along with anything else, and was pleased to be able to actually give him his size! he, however, was not quite as pleased. i'd already moved on down the list to the next person when he reappeared at my closet door with this lovely greeting: "hey, shorty. hey, hey shorty." oh joy. apparently these shorts (which were actually very nice) were too short-i believe the term "daisy dukes" was used as a description. now i would have loved to roll my eyes and lecture him about proper names and ways to get a lady's attention...but i didn't. i showed him a couple other pairs we had, offered him his choice, and he went on his grumbling way.

but this closet is also the source of joy too. meet kenny. kenny is a faithful grace place attendee, a member of galloway, and probably the only guy who willingly participates on our craft days. he's a mess, but he's a kind, joyful and friendly mess, and thus we love him dearly. kenny decided to sit right outside the closet door that morning, and while i saw him there, i didn't think too much of it. i soon began to notice though that kenny was monitoring the door. every time a guy came up, kenny would remind them sternly that they were not to enter the closet, telling all the newbies the rules. i remember asking him multiple times if he needed anything that morning, and each time he replied "no" with a smile. it wasn't until i was about halfway through that i realized what he was doing-kenny was looking after me. he felt the need to be my protector and helper that morning when he knew i was working by myself.

my heart laughed and smiled at the same time. it laughed because kenny, like i said, is a hot mess. brief synopsis: he's old, walks with a cane, and has a slew of medical issues. but you best believe, if something had gone down that morning, kenny would've been in the middle of it, cane and all. kenny didn't need to be there, but he wanted to. kenny is a living, breathing, messy but honest example of the power of true relationships.

one final note-i'm getting really good at sizing mens' clothing...don't be alarmed if i practice guessing your pants size correctly. i promise it's not creepy.

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