Thursday, December 18, 2008

Repairing the World

I’m a Meals on Wheels volunteer in Durham. I take an early lunch on Fridays and take dinner (the southerner’s idiom) to ten homes. It’s a sixty to ninety minute commitment each week. My route is comprised of elderly or convalescing folks. They get a hot meal and have someone to check on them each day. It’s a wonderful service for over 200 people in the Bull City. And as the saying goes, “you get more than you give.” There’s more on that topic below, but my main point is about Christmas...or maybe it’s Chanukah.

Meals on Wheels is closed on major holidays; that includes Christmas. In Durham, while the staff and volunteer core get a break, a Jewish congregation has stepped up to cover the holiday meal. Judea Reform Congregation on West Cornwallis Road has volunteered to prepare and deliver meals on Christmas Day.

That seems profoundly ecumenical to me.

And their motivation is instructive and inspiring. From JRC’s web site:

At the heart of our social action work is a commitment to bring into practice the core social justice values of Judaism and to pursue tikkun olam - repairing the world - through individual and group action.

Indeed, the world needs considerable repair. Our shared Holy Scripture speaks to that in Psalm 82:

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy…

Let’s commit to some repair work in 2009. You don't have to take on an entire continent. Start small. Take a meal to someone each week in your own community.

Meals on Wheels is just a click away.

Best wishes for Christmas,
Chanukah and 2009.
(December 21st - 29th)

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Click here to view WRAL TV5's Christmas Day story on Judea Reform Congregation.

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I wrote this about Meals on Wheels for Triangle United Way a few years ago:

I do an MOW route every week in Durham. It takes a little over an hour. I typically deliver to ten homes. It has helped me learn about every corner of Durham, and it takes me out of my “corporate comfort zone.” I think that’s a good thing.

It’s so much more than just delivering a meal. I see the problems “old folks” face who are determined to remain in their homes. I get to practice “patience” waiting at the door for people using walkers or trying to converse with someone who has pretty much lost their hearing. I’ve watched families deal with Alzheimer’s. I get a snapshot of urban poverty. And I’ve been inspired by the faith of several seniors in their struggles with terminal cancer.

I may not have painted a pretty picture, but I assure you I get much more than I give from that simple act of delivering a meal. I’ve thought about making it mandatory for my managers. Everyone could spare a lunch hour for this experience. More business folks could squeeze this into their weekly routine!