By Jean Blish Siers *
“ . . .if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
The other night, I gave a talk to a United Methodist Men’s group and spoke about how much I depend on my truck drivers. They are the faithful group of men and women who come to a field or a distribution site, often on very short notice, to pick up the gleaned food and get it to feeding ministries. One man asked if he had to have a truck to help haul, and it reminded me to be more careful with my language. Some of our regular gleaners and distributors have cars or vans or small SUVs and they can cram them full!
I told them about Ms. Annie, who in the height of summer will come to two gleanings a week. She has a little SUV, a Toyota, I think, that has a payload not quite as big as Ms. Annie’s heart! Annie is in her late 70s, and sometimes she brings her adult children with her, or her grandchildren or great-grandchildren. But she’s happy on her own, too. She works in the field as diligently as someone half her age.
When we finish in the field, Annie’s job has just started. She takes the food back to her house and repackages it for distribution. Some of it goes to ministries such as Salvation Army or a women’s shelter, but a lot goes to neighbors and church members who Annie knows need a little help. She might shuck dozens of ears of corn and bag them up, a few per bag, for someone who can’t shuck it herself. She might pick up several hundred pounds of zucchini or squash and put a couple in each bag and go door to door with those bags. She’s pulled up to potato drops in the pouring rain, pulled corn in the 90-degree July heat, and tugged turnips from the almost-frozen ground.
One day this summer, we filled the back of Annie’s little SUV with corn so high her son couldn’t see out the rear-view mirror. But the farmer also had some watermelon to share. I thought this time Ms. Annie was stymied. She had two great-grandsons in the back seat, after all. You guessed it: Those boys rode home holding melons on their laps, their feet propped on melons piled on the floorboards!
To pick up a pallet of yellow squash, you need a truck. But to get food to a church pantry or a neighborhood that would be thrilled to see something that doesn’t come out of a can? You need the desire to help. You need to see there’s a problem and want to fix it. Jesus told many parables about the last becoming first, about the small seed that becomes the largest shrub. Jesus knew it wasn’t the size of our truck that mattered, but the size of our faith and our willingness to put it into action.
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.