By Jean Blish Siers *
Although I don’t have a drop of Norwegian blood in me, being raised in Minnesota makes me appreciate all things Scandinavian. Well, most things; I’m still not big on lutefisk. So I was thrilled when my husband and I recently had a chance to attend Ibsen Fest in the tiny town of Lanesboro, MN. To honor the Norwegian heritage of their area, the actors at the impressive Commonweal Theatre Company each year stage a Henrik Ibsen play. The wonderful theater production of Ibsen’s political satire The League of Youth was coupled with lots of Norwegian food and enlightening programs, and it made for a fun homecoming for me!
Ibsen is considered by many to be the father of modern theater, and he wrote more than 25 plays, most of them dramas. In learning a bit more about Ibsen that weekend, I stumbled on a couple quotes that fit well what we do at Society of St. Andrew. The first is from his play Brand, about a troubled priest: “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” It caught my eye as similar to SoSA’s motto: “In Truth and In Deed.” I love wearing that saying on my tee-shirt in the fields, a constant reminder that we don’t just talk about hunger; we are called to do something about it. Our actions say a lot about us. Are we a people who let food go to waste while other are in need? Or are we people who see a problem, roll up our sleeves, and try to make a difference?
And the second quote? It’s a little more fun, but also important to what we do at SoSA. It’s from his play, Enemy of the People: “Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.” If you work in a field, you’re going to get dirty. If you’re sorting a truckload of potatoes at a church potato drop, at some point you’ll grab a rotten one. We don’t wear our best trousers (or shoes or jackets) when we fight to feed the hungry, because we know the work isn’t about us and how we look. Another adage says, “Clothes don’t make the man.” It’s not about appearances. It’s about getting nutritious food to those who need it most, as often as we can.
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.