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By Michele Dragisity
For the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Fr. Bill shared his sermon We Are in this Together, where he asked several parishioners to share a brief encounter, an image, or a feeling that relates to the following passage: I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. (John 14:15-20).
At the end of April, I participated in a Forgotten Harvest on-site pantry distribution. The passing out of food was to begin at 9:00 but by 7:55 fifteen cars were already lined up and waiting. I knew this meant that the people in the cars were in immediate need of food. It was chilly outside, it took gas and patience to wait one’s turn in line. I keep close tabs on the news so I was mentally prepared for a long line that day. I know the effect on all parts of society that COVID-19 has taken. Once 9:00 hit, I looked out to the horizon and saw the long line of cars waiting for basic food items and it took my breath away.
The woman who was distributing at the station next to me gave every car a cheery hello and to those she identified as veterans, she thanked them for their service. Hearing her say it for the first time, I teared up.
The man who stood next to me and helped me distribute was silent. He cut open each box of frozen chicken strips and pulled them out a bit so that they were easy for me to grab and bring to the car. He put the open box on a stack of boxes so all I had to do was turn, pick up the number of bags needed and walk a few paces to the trunk of the car. We worked in a quiet rhythm.
As I approached each car, I said hello, good morning. Cars of all varieties came: Cadillacs, new big trucks, what looked like a hippie-van, broken down sedans, modest foreign-made cars. Old, young, all races, all flavors of people. I kept thinking that any of the folks in their cars could be me except for a thin veil of choices and circumstances; say I’d taken a risk on opening a new business and was stretched financially, I was old and hadn’t planned well for retirement, I was a young Mom with little kids who were hungry and my husband was despondent and couldn’t bring himself to go to a food line, I was a laborer and lived from job to job. As I put frozen bags of chicken in each car, I nestled them against baby food, diapers, workman’s tools, kid’s toys, work-out equipment, a fancy bike, rusted trunks, shoes with mud on them.
Impressive to me are the volunteers and workers at Forgotten Harvest. Daily they bring food to people that are hungry, lonely, angry, sad, scared. Yet there they are out in the morning cold doing hard, physical work wearing face masks and gloves to bring sustenance to those that need it most.
Most every car left with words of gratitude, thank you, thank you. Three little kids in the back of one car gave me the sweetest smiles, all big eyes and grins.