“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
– The Reverend Martin Luther King
By Jean Blish Siers *
Since the tragic attack at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, there has been a lot of talk about what separates us – skin color, symbols, flags, history. One thing I like about working for Society of St. Andrew is our knowledge of what unites us: a passion for feeding our hungry neighbors, whoever they are.
My area has a stable of regular volunteers, those who supervise field gleanings, show up consistently to pick in the hot sun, and folks who distribute, driving trucks long distances to pick up loads of tomatoes, watermelons, corn, and turnips, to name a few of the things we haul. We are a diverse group: black, white, Asian; young and not so young; white-collar, and blue-collar.
And I am blessed to work with people who are dedicated to making sure that food gets to people who need it. Some of those folks work at larger, well-established ministries here in the Charlotte area. Others are volunteers who package the produce into usable sizes – a few tomatoes, a half-dozen ears of corn, a bag of sweet potatoes – and go door to door, stopping to visit shut-ins and folks who they know need a hand. A Jewish woman runs a ministry we supply regularly, ensuring Burmese refugees get fresh food. One of my drivers, an older African-American, regularly takes food to a Hispanic congregation in his area.
That’s what connects us: our understanding that no one should be hungry in a land of plenty. We know that whatever our skin color, whatever our family’s history, what matters is how we treat each other right now.
Not long after that horrible day in Charleston, I supervised a corn gleaning. It was a hot but lovely morning, as the volunteers gathered by the farmer’s produce stand. One of my most dedicated volunteers got out of his truck and we realized we were wearing matching Society of St. Andrew shirts. Flying the same flag. On the same side. It was an exceptionally nice moment.
With our hands and our feet, our buckets and our bags and our trucks, we work together to show Martin Luther King’s unarmed truth and unconditional love every day.
* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.