We came together last night, a community of Christians, Moslems, and Jews, united by the cries of hunger we heard from around the world. God has not been able to get us to come together in peace, but the rumbles of hungry stomachs did. For a few hours several hundred of us from three congregations gathered around tables laden with soy protein, vitamin packets, dried vegetables, and rice. We packed 12,000 simple but nutritious meals to be sent to those who cannot feed themselves. We don’t know exactly where they’re going – to underserved areas of the United States, or to India, Africa, South America, Mexico, or someplace we never considered. There are so many communities of hungry people. There are so many individuals who do not have sufficient food.
Twelve thousand people will soon eat, nothing fancy but just enough to keep them from starving. Maybe long enough for someone to figure out a long term solution to end hunger, to enroll these hungry people in programs that will resolve their tenuous situations forever. Most likely these meals will stave off hunger for one day but the pangs will be back too soon. The cries of children, the moans of old people, the pleas of those who cannot fill their family’s larder will return quickly.
If you saw us last evening, you saw folks of all ages, in yarmulkes, hijab, or bareheaded, with stars or crosses around necks or merely the collars of ordinary clothing, standing shoulder to shoulder in one room. We were Republicans, Democrats, Independents, unaffiliated, and those too disgusted with the system to take part in any way other than to spit at the idea of elections. Children came with their parents, seniors carpooled, and more than one family showed up with at least three generations of folks who participated. We talked about how good it felt to feed the hungry, to know that we’ve turned our words of altruism into action that someone else will feel in their bellies. Our good fortune will be someone else’s well being.
After the bags had been packed, counted, and boxed, we gathered in the sanctuary and participated in a multi-faith service. Choirs sang, uplifting our spirits with possibility the way that only voices united in song can imbue. Lay people spoke eloquent words from Maya Angelou, Gandhi, and Albert Einstein. Clergy of all three faiths described the relationship with God that commands all of us to come together as community and care for each other, to care for strangers, to feed the hungry. We heard passages from Quran, Torah, and the Old and New Testaments, words that praised God in God’s many names, speeches that noted how much we are connected. We celebrated how alike we are, how similar our prayers, our texts, our desire to see everyone cared for.
Terrorists, anarchists, agitators did not attend. We did not leave them out so much as they are uninterested in the idea of community gathered without the grasp for power and control. They left themselves out. There was no security present that evening. It was unnecessary.
Luxury is a word none of would use to describe ourselves and yet we all live in luxury. We have enough in so many ways, more than enough, a plethora of riches that are embarrassing to list. The list would be too long, in any case. All of us went home last evening to full pantries, to overloaded refrigerators, to tables waiting to be laden with a bounty of food that will make us ache well into the night of Thanksgiving. No matter our dietary proscriptions, today we will all overeat.
Black Friday beckons for many who will rush to shop on Friday and all weekend, stocking up on toys and devices, clothing and tools, chocolates and wine. The lists of those to whom we choose to bestow our gifts are long and we are a generous society.
I suggest that you buy one gift less. That you shop one hour less. That you take out your credit card one time less. That instead, you write one check and send it to any organization that feeds the hungry. Lots of worthy non-profits do good work. Some attend to local programs, others to countries overseas. Choose one and send them something. It needn’t be a huge check, because if someone is hungry, a small donation will let them eat. Send a hundred dollars, and if you can’t afford that much, send ten, and if that is too much, send a dollar. A dollar will buy a carton of milk, an apple, a yogurt cup. Imagine – all that goodness for one dollar.
It is painful to go to sleep on Thanksgiving night and know that all over the world, children will lay down with tummies that hurt. One dollar cannot feed every child. Your gift for one dollar will not loosen the purse strings of the miserly rich. It will not make the skies rain or the crops grow larger. But that one dollar will feed someone tonight, or tomorrow. And it will be more than enough.
It doesn’t matter how you pray, in what language, with what book, or even if not at all, but be truly thankful for all that you have. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, and may you be blessed with an abundance of friends, family, and good fortune, enough to enjoy, enough to share, enough to pay it forward in memory of those who once gave to you…
more than enough.
Image courtesy Homesteadgardens.com, Pixabay.com, public images