I try to summon a spirit of tenderness to the task: praying for the woman who wanted toothpaste (I had none); wondering who will want the pet food – who still has room in a hungry life for a heartfelt relationship with a dependant dog. I pack soap, to smooth soiled skin. I try to slip a treat, an unnecessary piece of escapism, into each bag. I try to summon a spirit of tenderness to the task.
But the cold, heavy, metallic cans are unyielding and hard-hearted. They stamp regular patterns into the base of the bag; they leave their mark. They bear witness to an unromantic, untender truth: that hunger hurts. They make me mad.
I try to summon a spirit of tenderness to the task, but I will settle for a spirit of angry tenderness, of indignant love, if God will lend it to me.