Like the flash of blue gray– the flutter of wings– among the yellowing leaves of the willow oak, we catch only a glimpse of what could be, what might be in this still unsettled season– carried on wings of hope.
As COVID cases rise in every state, we can finally look forward to a new year and a new administration that will attempt to follow science and good sense in combating this virus that is striking down more people we know. Meanwhile, some churches are finding ways to cheer people in their communities through the gifts of food.
More than thirty years ago, unmarried women in a Mennonite church I was once a part of began making and serving Thanksgiving meals to widows and widowers. They called themselves the Friendship Sisters. Their invitation was extended to several dozen people outside their church–neighbors and acquaintances–as well as those within. My parents served as hosts, a role my father particularly enjoyed as a lover of people and conversations. This year, with concerns about virus spread, the church planned to drop the meal. However, they kept getting phone calls, asking when the feast was to be served. Finally, they decided to do a drive-through meal, telling folks they could arrange eating it with their friends at other locations if they wished.
Just yesterday, along with the announcement of the election results, a hundred and seventy guests were able to enjoy their Thanksgiving feast. Absent were my deceased parents and some of the original Friendship Sisters. And absent was the ease of finding old friends and chatting with them. Nevertheless, the whole church combined their efforts to create a tasty meal and make sure it could be served safely. The chief cook, who is famous for her delicious homemade turkey and dressing, real mashed potatoes, well-made salads and excellent pies, presided over the food preparation. She is a spry eighty-five and puts a lot of love into her dishes. Others helped with serving, packaging, and meeting the guests outside as they drove through a designated area to pick up their food. The men took care of logistics–setting up tables and cones, and directing traffic. Even school children helped out. Though it was not as communication friendly as usual, I am sure many folks were blessed and will look forward to another time, another year.
In my current church community, senior citizens have volunteered to make meals twice a month for young families who are struggling with job and child-care issues that have become more complicated with the restrictions necessitated by the virus. In the interest of safety, these families cannot depend on their parents or others for occasional childcare. So far, this ministry has worked well. For the seniors, the deep gratitude expressed by the busy parents is worth the effort of making a meal. And perhaps it gives the young parents a morsel of hope that they can survive in this pandemic.
Yesterday evening, my husband and I packed sandwiches to take to a high knob on the western mountains to catch the blues and pinks of sunset, and watch the stars emerge in the ensuing darkness. With each taste of a sandwich and each twinkle of another star or planet, we felt the hope of better times to come.