10 April 2010

Cooking at the shelter

Several times a year (maybe every two or three months) we go over to the shelter and cook a meal.

Sometimes we cook alone, sometimes we work with a crew. Always we bring Jack and he helps, too.

We really love to cook and we enjoy the challenge of cooking for ever-changing needs and tastes, so we always have a good time, but that's only part of the reason we go.

Another, at least as important, is that we think it's important to make a real contribution to our community. We could just donate canned goods or money, but actually getting in there, contributing time, energy, and food is both more satisfying and more direct.

It sends a much clearer message to our spirits, the spirits of the people we feed, and to our little boy. As you do unto others, so shall be done unto you. As you sow, so shall you reap. Ever mind the rule of three. Helping people is one of the most basic ways to create happiness in our lives. Feeding people is fundamental to who we are as a family and sharing that beyond our social group just plain feels good.

It's also important to have a mechanism for reminding ourselves just how lucky we are.

It can be a disconcerting to go back to hand washing dishes because we can't afford to go out and buy a new dishwasher just because ours has broken down. It can be a little sad to not do things we might like to do because we don't have the money right now.

But we always have enough to eat, even if it isn't what we might have preferred. We have a warm bed and a comfortable home of our very own, and we own a little plot of the planet on which we can garden and forage. There have been times in my life when I had reason to doubt I would ever be this wealthy ... my older sons often cried themselves to sleep from hunger when the food stamps ran out before the month did, they wore old torn clothes that were often dirty because I had no money for soap or laundry detergent. A major treat was affording a can of fruit juice or toothpaste and show laces in the same month. The people we help to feed aren't other, they are me in another time of my life.

But Jack has no knowledge of anything other than plenty. I'm glad he doesn't have personal experience, but I think it's critical to his happiness for him to be able to see just exactly what he has.

Besides...it's fun to cook for a =crowd in a commercial kitchen -- at least once in a while. ;)

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