Happy New Year Everyone!
I could be writing happily about how much I love to entertain guests in my home! Planning, creating, and serving a meal to friends and family is one way I love to give to others.
However, today I want to share another way I love to give to others, a practice that has been growing for me over the last five years or so. It simply is to randomly feed those who can't always depend on a regular meal, let alone shelter from the cold.
I used to only do this occasionally but after a suggestion that came out of a spiritual counseling session I have been enjoying doing it more and more. The counselor suggested I carry peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in my car to share as needed. I have handed home-made gluten-free muffins, store-bought sandwiches, and health-food store nutrition bars through my car window when I spot another human being in need. I never give junk food or food I wouldn't enjoy myself. I want to share simple, nutritious food that expresses my love of food. I truly want them to love every bite!
Brynde Lambert told an old story about heaven and hell that has stuck with me. Hell was a heavenly place with a lush banquet of food and drink set before the people. Sadly though the people were starving because they had long pitch-fork-like things for arms and hands and could not figure out how to get the wonderful food laid before them to their own mouths. Heaven was identical in appearance except that the people had discovered that all could be nourished if they just took turns feeding each other.
Feeding others, sharing nourishment is what we are meant to do. The urge to do so comes from that spiritual source that unites us all in oneness - that which sees not with fear or judgment but with love. This kind of love is unconditional; it wants nothing for its givingness. It matters not what we call the spiritual source or what we call ourselves - all that matters is that we give ourselves over to the desire to feed each other.
I remember many years ago a relationship workshop leader saying that what homeless people need most is to be seen. His answer arose in response to a participant who shared how confused he felt about whether to give the homeless money or not, his desire to help, and his sense of guilt if he just ignored them. Everyone could relate admitting how they often avoid or ignore the presence of the homeless so as not to disturb their own fragile sense of happiness. Although a common response, the workshop leader said, "this makes homeless people feel invisible". He recommended to give what you can give unconditionally with joy, grateful that you have something to give, and most of all, to bless them with your presence, your attention, your love.
Eric Butterworth, in his book, Spiritual Economics, reminds us that the historical definition of the word "bless" is "to confer prosperity upon". So whether or not I have food to share, I make it a point to bless the other with an enthusiastic wave, a big smile, an extended gaze that says "I see you, I care, you are not alone".
I hope you will join me in knowing that the small things we do in love are more than just enough, they are profound. If you know Course of Miracles, then you know this one! "Everything is either an expression of love or a call for it's expression to come forth." When love given without condition circulates both giver and receiver experience an increased sense of prospering, of nourishment. This is why I am grateful, so grateful for the opportunity to experience real, unconditional love through my random encounters with strangers in need. I am so grateful for the abundance of food available in the world that is meant to be shared. I visualize this supply distributed by organizations, nations, and people like me and know that it is good!
On December 27, 2011, a Detroit Free Press article appeared in USA TODAY under the NATION section entitled: "Faiths and Fates Mingle for Christmas". I've been carrying this news clipping around with me because it is evidence, a real demonstration that human beings can, in numbers, fearlessly be loving to those who seem different with the understanding that we are one in heart and mind. The article reported that in metropolitan Detroit 1,000 Jewish volunteers joined forces with United Council of Islamic Societies volunteers to deliver festive holiday meals to Christian families and play Santa Claus giving toys and clothing to underprivileged children. What fun this must have been for the givers and the receivers!
Here is my list of ideas for experiencing unconditional love through feeding others in need:
- smile, wave, bless, and eye-to-eye wish a homeless individual a good day
- carry food with you to give away: homemade, store-bought, health-food snacks
- buy extra nutritious convenience items when you can to have in your car
- buy hot food on the fly when you see someone who needs a hot meal
- donate food to your local food closet and volunteer to hand it out
- volunteer time at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
- participate in grocery store holiday meal programs
- Think Global, Act Local: combine giving money to organizations and giving in-person in your own community
I know that I am not alone - that there are others of you out there sharing food, clothing, blankets, time, and love with homeless or underprivileged friends. I'd love to hear from you. How do you feel when you give? How do you feed others in need? Please share your personal experiences with us ...
With a Grateful Heart,Deb