January 7, 2013
Belinda cooked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies this morning. That doesn’t happen often, at least not early morning. But today is the first day back to school after the Christmas break and Belinda wants the day to be special. However, Belinda’s morning is full of hospice visits and expects a morning living with those who are dying will run well into the afternoon, which means, it is up to me to bring the cookies to this afternoons after-school program.
I will bring them, but when to give them out is up for discussion. Sometimes, these early morning conversations Belinda and I have are both funny and sad. After all, who would imagine giving cookies out during an afterschool program would generate such passion?
Every time cookies or candy (or pizza for that matter) shows up afterschool, there is always a few youth who take handfuls. While someone right in front of them may take one and then come back later, they will take half-a-dozen. At some level, we have all experienced this. Everyone, at one time or another has taken a handful. We don’t need it, but occasionally, two or three, rather than just one seems to do our soul well. But there is something else going on when someone takes a handful every time.
It might be the handful is simply selfishness. We too, know what that is all; we are all guilty of a bit of selfishness at times, aren’t we? But the crux of this morning’s conversation was what if it is something more than that? When a youth walks away from the table with a handful of cookies, might it mean something more? Could it be they did not feel the gift of abundance, of peace, of a full stomach at any time during the last two weeks? If not, why? If not, do we have a responsibility to do something about it? And if we do, what is it? Are we called to talk to them about their lifestyle or their family situation? Or are we called to question if society is structured so that it enhances the possibility they will become a young adult, an adult, and an elder who are dependent upon others? And if we find that to be true, are we called to do something about it? Should we speak for changes in democracy and capitalism that might lead to awareness that food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are indicators of society’s failings rather than successes?
Neither of us had answers this morning. Rather, meaningful answers seemed to wander the edges as one question led to another. Are a handful of cookies due to selfishness, the hoarding of others, or both? Well, it is hard to say. What I did notice, though, was that while I reveled in the conversation Belinda made another batch of cookies.
© David B. Bell 2013