A Reflection from RCS volunteer, Jamie Gentry
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been crying a lot lately. I get overwhelmed when I venture outside for five minutes of fresh air and a break from my small apartment, only to see empty streets and signs in the windows of my favorite neighborhood shops that announce, ‘closed until further notice’. I am growing weary of trying to adapt all aspects of my job in higher education to a virtual, orderly environment. And I can’t help but feel a little despondent when I step into the silent and empty basement kitchen at All Saints on Tuesdays to prepare brown bag to-go meals rather than family style feasts for our RCS neighbors. I desperately miss the order and regularity of routine, I miss hugging the people I love, and, perhaps more than anything, I miss feeling useful.
I realize that it doesn’t sound like it, but I’m an optimist—a dedicated, glass half-full kind of gal. But even the most ardent of optimists struggles when she feels ineffective in the face of crisis. What on earth are you supposed to do for yourself and for those around you when the world around you is in chaos and your skillsets don’t appear to be immediately needed? Sometime last week, in a fit of frustrated tears, I realized I’d had enough of my despair and I started to look around me for ways to re-order my perspective. I knew I needed to feed myself in order to feed others, so in true RCS style, I gathered all of the ingredients I had on hand, both emotional and physical, and threw them together in various measure until I came up with a serviceable recipe for maintaining a sense of purpose in a challenging time. I’d like to share it with you, just in case you, too, need a little pep talk:
A Recipe for Service in a time of Pandemic
- 1 cup of compassion, divided (½ cup for you, ½ cup for others)
- 1 cup of patience
- ½ cup elbow grease
- ½ cup ingenuity
- 1-2 TBSP love
- 1-2 TBSP humility
- Humor, to taste
Toss ingredients into a pot with enough water/coffee/tea/wine to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Give everything a stir. Find one or many humans (neighbors, strangers, loved ones) and ladle this, warm over the top of any of the following:
- A bag of groceries
- A mask sewn or donated
- A story read
- An encouraging phone-call
- A happy, hand-written note
- A meal made and served. Any meal in any quantity
- A donation, any sort
- A socially distant wave delivered with a smile
Reheat and reserve.
Don’t worry, once you make it, this recipe never fully runs out.
A Reflection from RCS volunteer, Kelly Hewitt
The world is upside down. I don’t even know what to say about it. I find myself dreaming of comfort food: tuna casserole (the first meal my father taught me to make), chicken parmesan (the first meal my grandmother taught me to make) and bologna sandwiches (my mother shared this craving too). Food is where I’ve taken comfort over these last few weeks.
RCS and the All Saints community have impressively adapted. From the photos of parishioners in the pews, to the morning prayer, to the weekly meal, the community presence is strong. And powerful. I’m frankly blown away by it. And selfishly, being able to participate in a very unique service of our weekly meal has been one of the grounding pillars to my new routine. Jamie and I have channeled our inner comforts to be something we can share with our neighbors and community.
I’ve joined social media groups and am a part of countless group chats and zoom happy hours and am very fortunate to know that I still have my job and that I know when my next meal is going to come. I am also blessed that thus far, I am still in control of my body and to my knowledge have not succumbed to COVID-19, which allows me to shop for myself, family and friends when they cannot.
I am also in awe of the power of community these days. Neighbors, family, friends all continue to check in on each other and offer what solace they can. You’ll likely have noticed that my favorite question to ask my mother, my father, my sister, my friends “what’s for dinner tonight?” And I implore you to keep asking that question to each other because you may find someone who just doesn’t know the answer to that question. Now, more than ever, we need to live our best RCS and All Saints selves and support each other.
In the last three weeks of our new normal RCS has seen a sharp increase in meals taken by our neighbors. The first week it was 40, the second roughly and last week 108 containers of hot tuna noodle casserole were received by our neighbors. That increasing number and number of new faces coming to RCS for resources scares me because I don’t see it going down in the weeks to come. But knowing that All Saints and RCS are here and are places where we can all turn for nourishment in whatever way we need is what keeps me motivated and inspired to continue on. Each day presents new challenges and I can’t comprehend what those are for many. What I do know is that I have the power to feed my friends, my family and my community and that we are all in this together. I appreciate you all now, more than ever, and I won’t stop asking “what’s for dinner?”