I volunteer on Wednesdays at a community center in their soup kitchen. Sometimes I do other things to help out there too, but mainly I play waitress. We serve our guests restaurant style. We take their drink order and bring them utensils, then deliver a plate of food to their table. We greet them, ask how they are, chat with the ones who want to chat, smile at the ones who don’t. Some days it is very busy and the time passes in a blur. Other days you have more time to get to know people or to just take a slower pace. There are regulars and newcomers, old people and young, lot of children in the summer when school is out. For the most part everyone is polite and thankful.
Some days I stay after my serving shift and help with another project. The community center provides sacks of food through the area schools for children who are at risk of food insecurity to have something to eat over the weekends. We work in an assembly line, bagging fruit snacks, pudding cups, crackers, ramen noodles, grain bars and other snacks. I like doing this even though it is repetitive because we usually chat amongst ourselves and get to know the others who are helping out, and it is nice to know that what we are doing is helping a kid.
This week a local church I pass by often has their sign reading “Every person should go to church to get away from himself.” While I think it is great to go to church and all, I don’t really go a lot. Partly because of my work hours. But also partly because I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet.
I feel more like I think I should feel in church when I am serving food at the community center. If I had a sign maybe it would say “Every person should volunteer to get away from herself.” I know for sure that helping other people does wonders for my mood, and it sure gives me perspective for my problems.
There’s a sign at the center that says “Volunteers are love in motion.” I like to think that even if I can’t get it together religiously, at least my heart is in the right place.
The refrain of a song I learned in church long, long ago and that has been in my mind lately:
“Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love, show us how to serve the neighbors we have from you.”