• Charlene Jin Lee

Hot Tamales



The world is growing colder for those without shelter. 


We are directed to shelter-in, so we do, and we must. Boundaries that perforated our mornings—that threshold when we step from warmth to the outside world, its air wafting subtle and weighty demands—are now more like padded walls. 


At least for the short term, it seems that a well-overdue pause came by force. A pause for our erudite but crazed overperforming minds, for our worn sleep-deprived bodies, for our over consumption, for our overturned land. 


On the other side of this pause is an intensifying desperation for the loved ones of those already lost to this pandemic, for those fighting for their lives in hospital beds, for those also dying to fight for the lives of their patients.

In my own insulated pause, I remain restless thinking about the overwhelming crisis impacting our world and with thoughts more local in nature. They are thoughts of women and men who have begun to occupy a stretching pocket in my heart. As we shelter-in, they hover-over with only their backs as shelter. 

The homeless worshipping community has paused our evening services. Our last gathering was March 15. I offered a Psalm 23 meditation: For You Are With Me. We shared the Communion Table and the supper table. We dispersed. The world became quickly dark, as mandates for closures and sheltering-in took effect beginning just that day.

After several days, six of us emerged from our caves onto eerily empty streets. Our steps met in the church kitchen.


How beautiful are the feet those who bring good news. 


Juan cooked up serious supper, another baked brownies, a couple drove an hour to roll up their sleeves, we all donned on our gloves and boxed 80 warm dinners. 


The extra bonus: homemade tamales, of course.


Seeing the growing line outside our makeshift window station, my well-disguised fear dashed in one moment. On this wet LA night, good news was eaten—one hot tamale at a time. 

There are no easy solutions. Yet, there is a way. The way is always towards the ones farthest from us. When we take up that way, we are transformed. We find salvation.



There, we will find hope.

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