The Gift of Serving

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.

Photo 1

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.

Photo 4

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. Leftovers were delivered to Safe Harbor shelter in Easton and they were very appreciative!

photo-2.jpg

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.

Advertisements

Next Door

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was …

A time of innocence, a time of confidences …

Perhaps it is because these two people unknowingly played such an important role in my early life.  Perhaps it is the fondness of looking back on a time when i10945655_10205115657027541_9203176891511721601_nnnocence abounded.  Maybe it is my belief that the good Lord placed this family right next door and He knew that we needed them long before we knew.  Maybe it because this woman next door was my Mom’s best friend.  That could be why I am getting all choked up.  I seem to be drowning in a flood of rich, warm memories.

Jack and Jeanette Pulsifer, and their kids – John, Nancy, Karen and Kevin – lived next door to us in Highland Mills, NY.  Our two families spent a lot of time together.   There were countless days at the community pool together, dinners and backyard barbecues and cub scouts and girl scouts events.  There were picnics by the streams at 7 Lakes Park near West Point.  There was even a vacation at their cabin at Chateaugay Lake in upstate New York.  Most of all there was the love and friendship.

I remember Mr. P smoking his pipe, swirling entrails of cherry-scented smoke making their way from the pipe to the ceiling.  Sometimes he would thrill all the neighborhood kids when he would drive his new car carrier truck home on the rare occasion. We were in awe of the sheer size of it and the fact that Mr. P got to drive it!1005792_791907814160366_1615309082338346649_n

Mrs. P  would talk in her down-east Maine accent as she would knit or crochet.  She loved to chat with Mom.  They seemed to talk about everything and anything and never run out of things to say.  Oh my goodness could she laugh.  She would throw her head back and laugh, laugh, laugh.  She was my Mom’s best friend, for sure.

It is so hard to put emotions and impact and lives into words.  The words are just too limiting.

Mrs. P passed away several years ago – a few years after Mom passed.  Mr. P left us earlier this week. Both of them were such sweet people and filled with love and genuineness.  They will be sorely missed but their legacy lives on i1238815_651987608152388_471995484_nn our hearts.

I think Simon and Garfunkel got it wrong.  The photographs are not all that is left … there is the deep etching of love, friendship and kindness carved on our very souls.  Unerasable no matter what the world throws at us or the passing of time.

Thanks for being part of our lives Mr. and Mrs. P.  See you in the hereafter.

Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph …
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.