Saturday, February 07, 2009

God Feeds Us All

That's what Sara Miles told me the other day. She also told me that if she'd known, when her child was small, what she knows now, she'd have asked for a lot more help.

We have gotten to the point where we have to ask for help to feed ourselves and our baby. And it has actually been a blessing! I'm really surprised - rather than feel humiliated and/or guilty, the people we've worked with have made us feel welcome and deserving. Nobody, it turns out, seems to mind feeding an infant and a breastfeeding mum. Kudos. [plus it turns out we spent years paying into the system, so, our social worker says, we shouldn't feel bad at all about taking out what we put in! true enough!]

So a shout-out to the WIC program, which is providing me & Maggie with dairy, cereal, and some protein. Unfortunately, we can't get any organics, which is really sad - seems the government should support the healthier options (both for our bodies and for the earth), since in the long run that saves money on healthcare, environmental cleanup, etc. (but of course the long run is rarely considered - just look at the national debt).

One thing that was super cool was when we were in the WIC office we noted that they don't offer any vouchers for basically anything fresh (except dairy) - no fruits or veggies, or even whole grains. Basically, nothing especially healthy. One month a year (one month!) you can get a voucher to take to the farmer's market (at least we have found a local market that accepts WIC, instead of a chain store, thankfully). BUT the woman told us that in October this year, a lot of that is going to change - they are going to phase out the vouchers for processed cereal and start including more whole grains, and probably start including some produce as well.

And I realized - that's the Farm Bill in action! How exciting to see something that I worked on and lobbied for actually going into effect (and I didn't even realize it would be affecting my life!). I was really psyched when I figured that one out. Yay to all of us who wrote to congress - I can vouch for the difference it will make.

It is funny - if you go through our current shopping guide, there are all these photos of GM and Gerber products. It's pretty obvious that this program has been paid for by some corporations. Wow - thank goodness that is changing!

The other thing I did was go work at the food pantry at my church yesterday, and what a thrill that was! I had SO much fun! I think partly it was just really great to get out of myself (you turn in on yourself so much when you are depressed) and focus on others, but also there is this amazing family atmosphere amongst the volunteers. And many of the volunteers are homeless or down-on-their-luck - it's a totally different vibe from the "rich man's burden" approach to helping the destitute. (and I'm among those who needed the groceries, so I was grateful not to feel like a schlub) All the people I encountered were really thankful and happy - it was so collegial and respectful. It felt so good.

I took Maggie along, both to teach her early about volunteering (plan to take her as she grows), but also because I know that babies bring joy. And boy did she! We got smiles, cheek-pinches, "cute" in so many languages! It was such fun. She actually sat on my table and got out the boullion we were in charge of, handed it to me, and I handed it to the people. It was seriously adorable. So many people thanked me for bringing her. She really lit up the room. I consider it such a privilege to have this little hospitality minister to offer to the world!

Plus we came home with SO much food! Way more than I could have imagined - it's such a generous pantry. I wanted to call up my friends and throw a party! Maybe I will - Friday nights at my house, people - we'll cook up whatever we've gotten! Last night we had salmon w/tapenade, caprese salad, and a baguette - all courtesy of Trader Joe's, all just past its date. Wow. Plus I have produce for a week - between the pantry, our CSA box, and WIC, we may never had to grocery shop again. [And the CSA will be the last to go - not only is it a great deal at around $50/month, but I believe in supporting a family farm more than a corporate store]

I'm not sure if I felt so in my element because I was serving, or because I was being a proud mama, or because it was food-related, or because it was joining a new community...probably a combo of all these and more. J and I were trying to analyze it, since I came home on such a high. There was something there that touched my passion and vocation, obviously - I just have to figure out what it was, then find a job/ministry that matches it, right?

Anyway it was a joy and definitely something I plan to do every week. You can't buy that kind of fulfillment!

All this to say, I'm so glad I've asked for help, because it is blessing me a hundredfold, way beyond the actual food. Thanks be to God.


JTB said...

from Donna Haraway's most recent When Species Meet:

"There is a third and last 'parting bite' necessary to explore how to proceed when species meet. No community works without food, without eating together. This is not a moral point, but a factual, semiotic, and material one that has consequences...In eating we are most inside the differential relationalities that make us who and what we are and that materialize what we must do if response and regard are to have any meaning personally and politically. There is no way to eat and not to kill, no way to eat and not to become with other mortal beings to whom we are accountable, no way to pretend innocence and transcendence or a final peace. Because eating and killing cannot be hygienically separated does not mean that just any way of eating and killing is up human exceptionalism has consequences that require one to know more at the end of the day than at the beginning and to cast oneself with some ways of life and not others in the never settled biopolitics of entangled species."

There is more but if I don't stop there I will have to type out basically the whole last chapter. Instead I will just tell you go get the book from your library! The stuff about "eating well together" is in the final chapter, titled "Parting Bites."

Read this on the train on the way to church yesterday and was just too excited about it--and you are the best person I know to share it with!

(All sorts of Eucharistic implications and questions abound--though I expect as a rather strident anti-Catholic Haraway would be disgruntled with me...but as she herself claims, a certain Catholic sacramentality is very deliberately incorporated into her work, so maybe she wouldn't after all...)

okay, stopping now.

Shannon (Donbroski) Smith said...

Yay for serving with Maggie. I agree- God is so good and does BLESS the server immensely- you go to bless and it gets thrown back at you ten-fold. We always bring the kids to the nursing home we've been going to for the past 2 1/2 years... they've seen Ethan grow up (he was only 6 mo when we started) and Naomi has gone since she was a week old. It's SO good for kids- plus- everyone LOVES the kids more than us (ha ha) so it's wonderful. I think it's great to get kids involved in serving and supporting the church and community early- so many kids just go on the internet, use their ipod, play video games now. Sad...
So glad you found something to give you joy and you bless and serve others!!

Gail P Smith said...

It always amazes me that when we come to the end of our rope(pride?) and it seems like the worst thing possible has happened to us, God turns it around to be the very thing we needed to bring us the joy and contentment we were longing for.