Henry has been helping out in the kitchen here at Sanctuary for two or three months now. Every Wednesday he is there at 3pm sharp, ready and excited to tackle whatever cooking adventure we have lined up for the day. His heart to serve is not easily conceiled.
My conversations with Henry until this past week were mostly small talk. I know that he is new to London and that he came from Toronto. I know that he is a big football fan, although I can't quite remember what team he cheers for. I also know that he is currently unable to hold employment because of a car accident that has done some severe damage to his back. But beyond these few things, I don't know much about Henry's life. He seems to rpefer to work silently. A few weeks ago he single handedly peeled 50 pounds of potatoes without so much as a word of complaint. And he is great with our community as well. He's always encouraging, never belittling.
I could tell that he knew his way around the kitchen, and when we were making apple crisp for desert, I watched in amazement as he peeled and sliced at least half a dozen apples by the time I was able to peel just one!
Until that day, he never let on just how much he knew. So I had to ask, "Have you worked in a kitchen before, or is cooking just a hobby for you?
"Ya, I enjoy cooking," was his nonchalant response. It took some pretty serious digging on my part before he would admit to me that he spent over 30 years in the hospitality industry before his accident. He first worked as a prep line worker, and most recently as manager of a number of high end kitchens in Toronto! And even with all of these years of experience, this trained professional was taking orders from me…. From me! The guy who recently added four cups of corn starch to help 'thicken up the gravy a little' (instead of a few teaspoons…… who knew the difference?).
I can't believe that Henry never once tried to take over, or at least try to show me a better way of doing things. Instead, he always asked me what I would like him to do, and how I wanted him to do it. This is the kind of person I strive to be like. A heart completely filled with humility. One who empowers others by serving in complete submission, even when I think that I know a better way of doing things.
One thing I can tell you for sure. The next time Henry comes to help in the kitchen, I think I'll let him slice the apples the way he thinks they should be sliced.