January 21, 2013, marked the first of what will be an annual tradition for the Btown Rockhills. We will trek out as a small but mighty 4-person team to take part in one of the many service projects Bloomington has to offer on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This day we bundled up against frigid, blustery, January weather and drove to the Community Kitchen to make health kits for children. The kits would go into backpacks handed out to children in need to supplement their sparse food supply at home.
Before we left for the Kitchen, over breakfast, Cass and I talked to our girls about the significance of this day, and what we would be doing to help celebrate King’s mission. Eva seemed to get the meaning of it all. And even 2-year-old Shilo seemed to listen–or at least was quiet during my spiel . All the while, I couldn’t help noting how full our bellies would be today. This morning I found this blog post by by Jen Hutchinson of the Vermont food bank.
Children have a real pure and honest way of telling you how they feel. Recently, while eating breakfast, I asked my five-year-old son how long he thought he could go without eating. He looked at me very confused and said, “I don’t know what you mean.” So I asked, “Well, if we had no food in the house and you weren’t sure when you were going to eat again, how would that make you feel?” His entire demeanor changed, and with his head down he very quietly said, “I would feel really sad.”
At the Kitchen, Tim Clougher, the assistant director, welcomed us and quickly briefed the small group gathered. Then we got to work loading plastic grocery bags with shampoo, toothbrushes, washcloths, combs, soap, tissues, and coloring books. We separated bulk black beans into 1-pound portions to give to hungry neighbors. We decorated brown paper lunch bags.
After a couple hours, we ate chili together as a youth orchestra came in and played. We were one of a few stops on their route–their own service project for the day.
Finally, we reflected on our small contribution to such a monumental problem in our nation–poverty and hunger. Tim raised our awareness of how close we are all at any moment to needing the help of relatives, friends, neighbors–our community. This intensified my belief in one of the guiding principles of Unitarian Universalists: valuing the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. I’m hoping to do more work to advance this belief and raise awareness of it as best I can. Yesterday was just a (very) humble beginning.
This morning I found this poem, spoken by Richard Blanco at President Obama’s inauguration yesterday. A beautiful piece, and this excerpt especially rang true for me:
on on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through