From my colleague and good friend, the Rev. Robert Orr, Canton, MI ... in response to my poem, "LA Soup Kitchen" - Robert writes eloquently of his own recent experience with his son, Caleb ... with his permission, of course.
I was very moved by your poem and could feel my way with you into the soup kitchen experience. Thank you for writing it. I hope you go again. Hunger in America has an ugly face but it's a face we need to stare into, pray about, and work to alleviate. I have always admired the ministry of the Catholic Worker movement and the legacy of Dorothy Day as she and her people lift up the least, the lost and the last.
Caleb and I went yesterday afternoon to a large warehouse here in Canton and helped out as we have before with a food distribution program. Every Wednesday the trucks come to the location. They're from Gleaners and Last Harvest (?) and others . .who are "saving" food from being thrown away because of expired dates or too ripe fruit and vegetable conditions. Then every Thursday folks bag it up in smaller sizes and around 5 o'clock the cars start coming. They have registered before this so the size of their family is known and an appropriate amount is given. The carts start rolling with the groceries on them. Hundreds of families in car after car come through the parking lot for their food pick up. Hunger in America. It shouldn't be. Is this the kind of country we're proud of? Is this the "united" states under the waving red, white and blue? What country am I seeing? Who are these people? Who am I? What's going on here? What sad commentary am I seeing? What documentary am I part of? I don't stare, but I want to look into the passing cars, pausing ever to collect their bags of groceries. I want to meet these brothers, and sisters and children. Aren't these my family? But we seldom see one another. We seldom speak. I do look from time to time. I have to see their faces.
(when Dorothy Day was a college student) "She has also undergone a kind of preconversion; and though she is nowhere within shouting distance of the church, she has taken its measure, she knows where to find it. She knows what he church looks like; or, infinitely more to the point, she knows what is should look like."
"Our best and truest memories are invariably suffused with gratitude. I am grateful beyond words for the grace of this woman's life; for her sensible, unflinching rightness of mind, her long and lonely truth, her journey to the heart of things. I think of her as one who simply helped us, in a time of self-inflicted blindness, to see."
--both quotes are from Portraits Of Those I Love, Daniel Berrigan, 1982
"The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other." Acts 4:32