Today marks the very first time I have ever helped at a local food bank. Actually, it's a local church supplied by the food bank. We arrived early to open huge bags and boxes of freshly delivered produce to give out to people in our very own community who do not have enough to eat.
I am admitting that it was my first time. Part of me would much rather you think I have been doing this all my life, that serving the hungry is something I have always been inspired to do and have always done, and that I have logged countless hours doing it. I have not. And although I have almost always volunteered in my community through my local church in some capacity, I have never volunteered doing anything related to food distribution. Lately I've had a clearer understanding of the hunger issues that prevail not only in developing countries across the world but in my very own back door. My daughter in Honduras works with children every single day who may not have a decent meal if not for the one provided by the school where she and her husband work.. But I have come to realize there are people living within a mile of my house who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Hunger is prevalent everywhere. From the least of the children to the aging adults who are at the mercy of those to whom they look for care. There is always someone out there who needs our help.
As we arrived just after 8:00 a.m., the truck had delivered the food, and it appeared to be a bit chaotic on the loading dock. But very shortly the system kicked into play, and things were running like a well-oiled machine. I ended up at the potato table and that was not planned, but I think it ironic however because I love potatoes! It never ceases to amaze me how much can be done with potatoes, and how something so life-sustaining comes straight from the earth! Ditto for carrots, beets, onions. and so many other foods. But back to the food distribution... Once all the boxes of food were organized by type, the volunteers started filling empty boxes with one of each item for the folks who had begun lining up very early and had been waiting to receive food. As the boxes started to line the edge of the loading dock, I began to look around. There were volunteers as young as eight and some looked like they were closing in on eighty. The little girl next to me was working circles around me and refused to go to the playground (as was suggested) when people starting picking up their food. She said she wanted to work. There was a mid-to-elderly aged man who was carrying filled boxes of food who I thought truly was on his last leg. His legs looked weak, he was moving slowly and he was obviously very tired, but he continued to press on. Those boxes weighed at least 30 lbs. each because some had multiple cans, two bags of apples, and two 5-lb. bags of potatoes! Wow, I was humbled by the folks who gave up their Thursday morning to work like a dog.
As I close in on my 60th birthday, I am mostly happy about the way my life has turned out. I have so many things to be thankful for, and I try every day to live a life of gratitude. But there are definitely some regrets that I have. If you know anyone on earth who has absolutely no regrets in their latter years, please let me know because I would like to meet them. But truth be known, they are probably lying through their teeth! Seriously, though, I wish I had taught my children at a younger age to volunteer, to give back, to make a difference in the lives of others. I just happen to be blessed with kids who make it their mission in life to give back, and for that I am so very thankful. I have learned so much from them! I wish I had had a clearer sense when I was a younger mom of how important it is to give to those who are less fortunate, to give without expectations, to give when there is no glory, to give in secrecy and out of your very own need if necessary. I wished I had realized that a life of giving is the best way to have a life of satisfaction. For one to look at me, one would definitely say I am nearer the end of my life than the beginning. But in many ways, I feel my life is just beginning. I am starting to reach beyond the boundaries of my comfort zones, to be willing to sacrifice when I am uncomfortable or afraid, to let go of some of the fear that controlled me when I was younger. I am learning to live with less. We can take nothing with us when we leave this earth, but we can leave behind all kinds of things -- most importantly, the hope we have instilled in others through our actions, our convictions, and the way we choose to live.
And it's never too late to begin...
Posted by CC
I love to write; you love to read...let's share!