December 10, 2015
Reflection by Jane Hale
Several years ago, while I was in the midst of leading a church teen group, I got a call from a local food pantry lamenting the recently received news that their major corporate sponsor had backed out of funding holiday meals. They were short 200 turkeys, and had exhausted their resources.
When I shared the news with the curious teens whose joyful conversation the phone call had just interrupted, one of them joined in the lamentation, “That’s so awful. I just wish we could do something.”
“Maybe we can,” I suggested.
“Yah, but what can I do?” a gangly, tousle-haired teen sighed, “I’m just one kid, and there’s a whole world full of hurting, and hunger, and sadness.”
We sat for a moment, in silence, the evening’s once festive energy now sobered, both by thoughts of so many of our neighbors’ suffering, and by an unsettling feeling of impotence and isolation.
We were roused from our thoughts when a quiet but clear voice emerged from the sea of sighing. “Well, we might just be kids,” she began, “and we might not be able to afford 200 turkeys ourselves, but I’ll bet we each know enough people who could pitch in.” She had the whole group’s rapt attention. “What if we were able to connect these families with other families who can help? What if that call was not for us not to come up with a way to end hunger single-handedly, but to get the word out that we have neighbors who need help, and then make connections between people who care? Think about what all those people could do together!”
That year, the food pantry received all 200 turkeys, pies, sides, and then some. But more importantly, through the faithful response of these resourceful teens, folks in the community were able to connect with one another in new and life-giving ways. Our teen group may not have ended the hurting and hunger and darkness that so often seems to engulf our world, but they sure helped to make a dent in it in our little corner of the world, by bringing a huge number of people together in love and compassionate action.
It seems that, so often these days, in the face of so much suffering, folks are asking the same question my teens asked. “I want to help,” we say, “But what can I do? I’m just one person and there’s a whole world full of hurting, and hunger, and sadness.”
Video by Nine6teen, Christ Church Pomfret