The Long Handshake


Author: Bill and Margaret Solberg

Perched in the back of the Meal Hall, Hospitality Ministers have the opportunity to welcome the Meal Guests, hand out tickets and offer hand sanitizer. As the line slows down later in the night, we have time to take in the scene of the Hall and the connections among the Guests.

One cold night last month, we were blessed to observe a joyful reunion. Johnny entered the Hall, looked around for a few seconds and seemed surprised to see Michael sitting at a table in the rear of the hall. He abandoned the Meal line, shouted Michael’s name. and hurried over to the table. Michael shouted back, stood up and rushed over to shake Johnny’s hand. It seemed that a reunion was happening. The two men stood talking for a long time, still shaking hands the entire time. Michael’s tray could cool and Johnny could wait to rejoin the line.

Sometimes during quiet parts of their conversation, the handshake would slow down. Suddenly, the conversation became excited with “Remember?”  “…and then”, “Oh yeah” and the hands would shake faster as the volume rose. Their laughter rose over the bustle of the Hall and warmed the entire room. The handshake continued for more than 5 minutes as Johnny and Michael caught up with each other.

Finally, the conversation quieted down. They hugged each other and Johnny went back to the line. Their long handshake was a good reminder that St. Ben’s Community Meal is as much about Community as it is about the Meal.