On June 27th members of The Gathering met at the Wesley United Methodist Church to provide and serve lunch at "The Daily Bread Soup and Lunch Program. Just over 100 adults signed in to receive lunch, but there were also a number of children served, and likely a number of adults who did not sign in.
Executive Director Mary Hankins indicates that the number of people showing up hungry has steadily increased over the last 18 months. A year ago the number of folks wanting lunch ranged from 70-100 people. Now there can be between 110 and 140 people who regularly come for service and fellowship. The economic disaster that now plagues the world’s economies is usually called a recession, but by others, an out and out depression. Whatever it is called, hard times have come to many.
Likely most of The Gathering volunteers Saturday have not gone hungry in a very long time--if ever. So, the experience of offering service to individuals who are less provisioned is not only an encounter with homeless persons and the working-poor, but perhaps more powerfully, an encounter with one’s own anxieties about entitlement and well being.
How many of us have ever spent face-to-face time with the question: who deserves to eat and who does not? Is it moral for any person or any government to determine (by omission or commission) who has food to eat and who doesn’t deserve it? There are many more hungry people in
For those of us who have never been truly hungry, can we know the impact upon mind and soul to have to seek out a meal at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter? Is it possible to have any idea what it feels like in the gut to wake up daily on the margins? What messages are given and taken about the worth and value of the one when so little is done by the many? Perhaps the lesson for reflection is to realize how removed from fear and suffering we are in our privileged lives.
So the Gathering’s commitment to the practices of integrity and service in this context require deep consideration of not just the issue of feeding the hungry, but how to address the specter of hunger for the marginalized. Take a breath, drop your energy into your center and look for a first step.