“The woman next to you just paid for your lunch.”
I looked at this blonde stranger with incredulity in my eyes. I was as hungry as I let myself get. I’d been digging in my purse to find my wallet. It wasn’t there. I left it on my desk when I took it out to renew the antivirus protection on my computer.
Home was 45 minutes away and there weren’t many groceries there. This tender, blue eyed woman fed me when I needed it. I’d never met her before. My eyes must have asked why.
“We all leave our wallets at home from time to time,” she answered.
I thanked her profusely, but with genuine acceptance, as only a hungry person can.
Then I thought of A Place at the Table, a documentary I recently saw. The little girl, Rachel, who has a staring role, alongside Jeff Bridges, lives in a state of perpetual food insecurity. She goes to the same school as my son. I knew, in my wallet, at home, I had plenty of money to pay for my salad, but not having that money with me, I felt vulnerable.
Hunger changed me.
Suddenly, if only for an afternoon, I felt the distraction Rachel describes in this lovely film. Instead of concentrating on her lessons, she sees her teacher as a banana and her classmates as apples and oranges.
Her teacher, Leslie Nichols, a woman who first welcomed my daughter when we moved to this small, mountain community, has taken the issue of feeding her students seriously. Leslie Nichols delivers bags of food from the local food pantry to hungry children who fill her classroom. She has turned this student around because Rachel is no longer distracted. Her reading ability reflects that.
I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been distracted writing a book. Rachel wasn’t learning because she was thinking about breakfast.
It’s a little odd to compare my “problems” with Rachel’s. I feel like a complete dweeb. But I take my connections where I find them. Today, Rachel helped me see that when I’m distracted I don’t attend.
I was distracted from my blog because I was writing a book – a worthwhile distraction in my view. Rachel however was distracted from learning because she was hungry. NOT equally worthy.
For the split second that I stood at that counter, feeling a bit faint, and listening to my tummy grumble, I wasn’t quite certain what I was going to do if I couldn’t eat that salad and had no wallet to grocery shop before I made my 45 minute drive home.
Did I even have enough gas to GET home?
Then someone helped me. Everything changed.
I ate my salad. I finished up the pages on my e-book. My distractions dissipated and I could see the world around me. Gratitude abounds.
Distractions arise every day.
If I try to think about feeding all the hungry people I get overwhelmed. My volunteer work in this world is something different. I am dedicated to helping prisoners with writing. I don’t want to become distracted from my work because I get overwhelmed by the world’s many problems.
Neither do I want to become blind to Rachel, who can’t think about her contribution to the world yet. She’s too distracted with hunger. If I do my small part to get her fed, each of us here on planet earth will be allowed to be distracted by our dreams, then emerge having created a life of our own.
What distracts you? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of need in the world? What empowers you in those moments?
Help Rachel and other kids like her with a donation of $5 or 10. You can mail your check to Plateau Valley Assembly of God Church, 57228 US Highway 330, Collbran, Colorado. They run the food bank that feeds the community you see in A Place at the Table.
What is your local food bank up to? Where are they located? How could you help with your limited time? Are there 2 months a year that you could afford to donate extra food their direction?