Mysterious Ways: Soup's On!

They had a giant pot of chili, but there were no mouths to feed. Or were there?

- Posted on Sep 10, 2013

A pot of chili

Brr. I hugged the warm Crockpot I was carrying as I walked up to the building site. We’re hardy folk here in Wisconsin, but that fall day was beyond brisk. The women in my church group were bringing lunch to some Habitat for Humanity volunteers building a house in a working-class neighborhood.

We’d made brownies, sandwiches and, most important, a huge batch of chili. Nearing the site, I wondered if chili would be enough to warm the bellies of the hungry crew.

Except...there was no activity. No hammering. No saws buzzing. No drills whirring. No one working inside or out. Only one car was parked on the street. A man climbed out, pulling his jacket tight. “Didn’t anyone tell you ladies?” he said. “There’s no build today.”

“No build? Why?” I asked.

“Windows didn’t come in,” the man explained. “There’s not much to do without them. It’s so cold, we figured we’d hold off until they’re delivered.”

The pot of chili felt heavy. All that work we’d put in, chopping onions, browning the beef, mixing in the spices and waiting for it to cook. Now we had this enormous batch and no one to eat it. Maybe we’d split it up. My family would have supper for weeks.

Then a thought popped into my head that didn’t seem to come from me. Take it to the homeless shelter.

The shelter? They planned way ahead and I was sure they already had a meal for the day. Then again, they could freeze the chili and serve it some other time. The women and I piled back into the car and drove to the shelter. A crowd of people huddled outside the cafeteria doors.

“What’s going on?” I asked the shelter coordinator.

“The group that was supposed to fix the meal today didn’t come in,” she said. “We’ve got all these people and nothing to feed them.”

“You have something now,” I said.

There was enough chili for everyone... even for two stragglers who arrived after I thought the pot was empty. I shouldn’t have been surprised. This crew wasn’t the one we’d been planning to serve, but the Master Builder obviously had a greater plan.


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