I met a woman this week that I’ve seen every day for almost a year. She works in the cafeteria and some days she almost smiles as she moves to take care of the next person in line. I’ll be honest; she looks a little rough with her seeming lack of attention to details like hair or makeup and with dental hygiene appearing to be low on the priority list as well,  I am aware that I have made some assumptions about her life.

This week I served lunch to fellow employees under the guise of ‘service’ during this ‘special’ time of year. I enjoyed passing out 400+ free cookies and welcomed the assignment of working beside this woman whose name I did not know.  After all…I was really being Christmas-like in my ‘sacrifice’ of time away from the office.

There we stood….passing out cookies, refilling trays, asking everyone, “eggnog or punch?” In all my “managerialness” I managed to spill 2 cups of eggnog and break three cookies, not counting the one I dropped on the floor all the while secretly thinking that maybe I could teach this gal a thing or two about organizational management or effective LEAN ideas. Maybe someday she would want to be more than a cafeteria worker.

Instead, I learned something from her. I learned that she runs a non-profit that feeds the homeless in the park every Sunday afternoon. She has done it for six years, every single week. She intentionally goes to the area of the park where the homeless drink or shoot-up their drug of choice so that she can get food in them before they pass out, in hopes they will not freeze to death overnight. She unpretentiously talked to me of housing vouchers and lack of employment opportunities for this demographic of people. She serves up to 200 homeless per week, all of it cooked out of her home and served out of her car. And the name of her gift to those so desperate? Mosaic Ministry… and she was quick to tell me it wasn’t about religion, it is about bringing the broken pieces of each person together and creating something beautiful.

I had put on my suit and walked a warm corridor to the cafeteria where I passed out free cookies to those who could easily afford to buy them. I wasn’t off the clock and I wasn’t in the cold and in all truth I gave very little. But I met a woman, who gives quietly every week in the cold or the heat, without pay and without recognition.  Her lack of eyeliner and little care for if her teeth were straight, played itself out as more Christmas sacrifice than I have ever given. Not only was her gift beautiful, but as I looked into her brown eyes I saw the beauty of her heart as well.

Thank you Deeni for showing me what Christmas should look like…every day of the year. I’ll see you in the park.