A Russian writer by the name of Gurdjieff is quoted as saying, “If you help others, you will be helped, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in one hundred years, but you will be helped. Nature must pay off the debt. It is a mathematical law and all life is mathematics.”
And in Isaiah 58:10 it is written, “And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday.”
It was Thanksgiving Day and on this particular holiday, a feast had been prepared by an army of volunteers. The anticipated guest list was over a thousand people.
We were about to have an extremely bright day.
The yearly expectation of serving a sumptuous feast for the needy, the homeless, the working poor had once again arrived. Behind the scenes, the largest venue in town had been rented, the donated pumpkins were in place on each of the tables, the volunteer face painters were positioned, the game booths would soon resonate with the excitement and laughter of the children and the scores of volunteers had been scheduled and trained.
The plastic forks, knives, and spoons were neatly arranged on folding utility tables and from the kitchen, the aroma of perfectly oven roasted turkeys announced the main course.
And so, everything was in its place.
All of this preparation had come at a cost both financially and in volunteer hours, but definitely worth the investment in providing a memorable Thanksgiving meal and experience for both the guests and the volunteers.
Also, heartwarming were the families that had come to educate. Mentoring parents brought their children to this “school of service” to learn about giving back and to experience the joy of sacrifice.
On paper plates adorned with cornucopias, turkey slices would be joined with fluffy mashed potatoes, green beans, turkey dressing, a golden brown dinner roll, butter, cranberries and gravy. And neatly arranged, row upon row, were tantalizing slices of pie lovingly prepared and made from every fruit imaginable.
Looking over this accomplishment, by an army of loving volunteers, a tinge of pride was enjoyed briefly and with a sigh of relief, a prayer of gratitude was offered to give back thanks for the blessings and challenges of life. With that, the signal was given to commence the feast.
Yes, everything had come together nicely. It was time to usher in the guests.
The extended family members were transient men and women, homeless families with children, and struggling families trying to make frayed ends meet.
As each family member was seated and served as our guests of honor, one could not help but notice that each person was different as witnessed by their various shapes, sizes, colors, ages, and afflictions. All different, and yet looking full into their faces, the common thread that bound them together was evident.
They had hungry eyes.
Listless eyes which reflected the hollowness and despair of their innermost being. Their eyes truly mirrored the starvation of their souls and spirit.
At that moment the powerful words from Mother Teresa inflamed my heart when through her wisdom she stated, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
Mulling this truth over and over, the consuming focus became the opportunity to nurture hungry eyes.
This Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t about turkeys, or pies, or the media, or money, or the ministry, or any of these trappings. It was about humanity, warmth, and the serving of love through a Thanksgiving Day meal... all through the efforts of an army of volunteers whose mission was to serve compassion for others.
Suddenly the multitask room was gloriously transformed into a grand cathedral. I became aware of a full-feeding ministry that not only satisfied physical hunger, but also provided nourishment to the soul.
I witnessed and experienced this army of volunteers engaging guests in conversation and demonstrating a genuine interest in their lives. Our guests spoke of unfulfilled hopes, dreams, and the consequences of misguided decisions. These survivors also shared about the tragedies of life that led to those choices.
Hungry eyes became moist with tears as prayers were offered and embraces given. The love of God was demonstrated and was much sweeter than all the rows of fruit pies.
That Thanksgiving Day was different.
This was a practical communion served by a multitude of ministers.
Through the services of missionary volunteers, hungry eyes had been fed and it was glorious to see flickers of life return to lifeless eyes.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Brian Aird emigrated with his parents to Chicago, Illinois and eventually enjoyed the small town life of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from high school and one year of study at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a 10-year commitment of service in the United States Navy was afforded which included many opportunities of education, life experience and travel.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy, he attended The Salvation Army School for Officer’s Training and was commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army where he served in various communities throughout the western United States for a period of 12 years.
Following this life changing experience, the American Red Cross became a new arena of service for 10 years. Currently, his vocation is once again with The Salvation Army where he serves in Northern California as the business coordinator. Four lovely children and eight darling grandchildren decorate the lives of he and his wife.
He is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, enjoys the game of hockey and loves to write.
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