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On some days I want to stay in bed and not deal with the world in general. I certainly don’t want to pack the lunch boxes (my kids all like different foods), but more daunting is listening to the BBC. I just can’t bear to hear one more complicated detail about the refugee crisis or any other crisis. My internal movie screen projects an endless stream of twisted visions from last year’s news cycle: a child, face down, washed on shore, a Haitian child eating a mud pie to fill his belly, a mother carrying everything she owns on her back, three small children by her side, a young girl raped by Boko Haram. It never ends.
Where do we start? How can we possibly make a difference in the world? And please don’t offer me some anemic platitude.
I had a God moment yesterday. My God moments aren’t filled with heavenly choirs or glorious sun sets. My God-moments usually sound something like the Back to the Future line “Wake up, McFly!”
I went to the Foodie Café, home of Daniel’s Table. In essence, The Foodie Café subsidizes the ministry of Daniel’s Table, a kitchen on wheels that distributes free food in Framingham. But here’s the best part: the owner and founder fully believes that he can and will end hunger in Framingham. In fact, he said to me, “We’ve got [hunger] figured out.” He then went on to talk at length about the complications surrounding the homeless population in downtown Framingham. But hunger, he’s got that solved.
You may be thinking he’s an arrogant fool. Let me assure you, there is nothing arrogant or haughty about Dave. Nothing. He’s pretty ordinary. Yet the difference between Dave and the-stay-in-bed-all-day-and-become-overwhelmed-by-lunch-boxes-and-the-refugee-crisis-type is fairly simple. Dave doesn’t get stymied by complexity, but instead trusts that somehow a difference can be made. This does not mean Dave doesn’t perceive the complication that surrounds hunger; he just doesn’t stay stuck in that complication. His vision is clear: end hunger in Framingham. His plan is simple: start feeding people. Everything else just happened. “Wake up, McFly!” God called out to me, and then added, “It’s not rocket science!”
I read an article over five years ago about the new gleaning movement. If you don’t know anything about it check out these articles: overview, modern movement, NPR podcast. As a member of a local CSA farm, I was thrilled by the possibility of gleaning leftover produce in the fields. But that’s all that happened; I was excited, figured out how to do it, and never did it.
This year that changed. I stopped sweating the complications: how I would coordinate enough people, if we would be able to pick everything, where the produce would go. I simply sent out an email to our faith community.
It was that simple. One evening for an hour a few folks gleaned and then a few more folks another evening chopped up enough tomatoes, peppers, and corn to feed 175 people chili. A week later four of us gleaned and delivered 75 pounds of vegetables to Daniel’s Table.
We didn’t end global poverty. We didn’t even end hunger in Framingham, but we did rescue healthy, fresh produce from rot, and we helped Dave come closer to his vision for Daniel’s Table. Perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Not doing everything perfectly, or completely, but doing things boldly in community.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.