“ I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindrath Tagore
A Word of Hope
Among the ways people across the nation honor and redeem the tragedy of 9/11 is to participate in a day of service and remembrance. Here in Dallas the North Texas Food Bank orchestrated a huge event, drawing volunteers from businesses and organizations across the Metroplex to create healthy meals for the hungry. Rev. Neil and Imam Omar Suleiman offered opening prayers and a bell and silence marked time to honor the dead and first responders. America was sung. Then volunteers headed off to their appointed tasks to work in two hour shifts while “energetic” music pulsated from large speakers.
Our Cathedral of Hope group for the 9-11 shift was assigned Funneling. Once the process was explained, each of us took a role. Bill stuffed a cheese packet inside the meal pack, then passed it off to Gil who secured the meal pack under a large funnel. John dumped in a cup of soy protein, followed by Rosemary’s measure of vegetable bits, my vitamin and mineral powder, and Philippa’s cup of rice. Completed packs were stacked upright in a plastic bin until a “runner” whisked them off to be sealed.
Though our team was quite focused overall, inspired to contribute to the food bank’s goal of providing 275,000 meals during the day, we also enjoyed the comeraderie, “dancing,” and singing “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Ice Ice Baby as we worked. But we also had a few lessons to learn, as shown by a bit of “spillage” on our table. At times we were over-enthusiastic about doing our part, not waiting for the person to secure the meal pack under the funnel. With both honed attention and a gentle “guard,” we reined in our mustang energy. I have seen this same challenge in ministries when volunteers sometimes charge in with their own vision/agenda before understanding the modus operandi already established and offering new ideas more deftly.
During our shift, we never ran out of any supplies because volunteers appeared at our elbows to fill our bins. At COH we have our own behind-the-scene providers—the altar ministers who set the supplies for communion, the volunteers who deliver baked goods from Costco for icare, those who restock the pews for services, just to name a few.
Finally, our attentive and dutiful “runners” made sure we never got clogged up with full packets and boosted us with encouragement. To be sure, our ministries too have their encouragers in hard times, people who help keep a hopeful flow of good will.
At 11: 00, when the gong sounded to announce that we had filled 82, 300+ meal packets, the room swelled with a collective wave of joy!
Fill us with the joy of your service, great nourishing God. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon