It is Christmas Eve and it seems like Thanksgiving was yesterday. Our “go-go-go” world seems to pick up the pace to breakneck speed this time of year. All too often we can get caught up in the “busy-ness” of life and become blind to the needs of our neighbors during the time of year when we are supposed to focus less on ourselves and more on others.
This past Thanksgiving, members of NorthBound, a comeback community, embarked on their first community event. NorthBound sponsored a community-wide, home-cooked meal held at the East Bangor United Methodist Church. The community meal was open to anyone who was homeless, family-less, friend-less, in recovery from addiction, and anyone who wanted to share some time with strangers over a meal. During the course of the three-hour meal, approximately 60 people graced us with their presence and shared conversation over a hot meal. But much more than a meal was shared.
So many memories are created over a meal. Food is such an integral part of who we are. It is cultural. Perhaps that is why kitchens seem to be the one room in the home where families congregate to reconnect, regale and revive. Kitchens are the place where we pour our hearts and souls into meals to be shared with the ones we love. Thanksgiving and Christmas have become holidays where meals create the backdrop for family and friends. We catch up with relatives, we recall family stories and relive traditions.
As with any event, it takes many people and no small amount of time and effort to put it all together. NorthBound's community meal was no exception. Rev. Dave and the people of East Bangor UMC graciously allowed us the use of their kitchen and community room. Jennifer and “La La” worked tirelessly at gathering community support and cooking. Kate, Gerry and I helped plan the menu, garner food donations and also cooked. Dozens of friends cooked desserts, rolls and side dishes for the meal. We all took turns serving up deliciousness and love to everyone who attended. In the end, NorthBound prepared over 100 pounds of turkey, 25 pounds of carrots, trays of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing and lots of corn pudding.
The takeaway from all of this? Food is the gateway through which connections are made. Through this meal, we made some headway in making life a little bit better for our neighbors. Through this meal, we developed a better understanding of what they mean when they say “it is better to give than to receive.” All of us at NorthBound became regrounded in what is truly important in life – not politics or opinions – but service and caring. By giving of our time and efforts to others we regain a toe-hold on the bedrock of our existence – loving others.