GU Women of Color and GU Lecture Fund at DC Central Kitchen
By: Vivian Ojo
October 26, 2011
There is something painfully beautiful about shaving the skin off apples. For three consecutive hours our service group peeled several apples at the DC central kitchen near Judiciary square. Each shaving of apple skin produced by cramped fingers of numb hands grounded by tired feet was a minute representation of the hope of a meal for a stranger. Our facilitator had told us at the start of the service, that while he wished to give us a break, every moment we spent not peeling apples meant one less shaved apple, which meant a little less apple mash, a little less apple pie and a few more people in lines at halfway homes and homeless shelters across DC, who would hear the crushing apology preceding the statement "that's all we have for today."
After the fifth apple the novelty wears off and you begin glaring at the clock more frequently in search of a time when your eyes need not encounter another apple. When I began to feel this way, I looked to my faith for edification. I began to reflect on the biblical tradition recounted in John 6 that depicts Jesus as having used the two fishes and five loaves of a young boy to feed five thousand people. What a wonderful miracle Christ performed! Even more intriguing, was the little boy in the story. For the first time, I began to think about the faith that the young boy must have had to hand over his hard earned food to Christ, to multiply the food for people he did not know.
The commission of my faith is not static and it transcends the year 33AD. Christ came to show us what work was and is to be done. I was, like he did, to feed those who could not feed themselves. Perhaps I was the boy in this scenario and I had been asked to award a little bit of my time, energy and general skills in apple peeling to be a part of the multiplication of food. It was with this inspiration in mind that I continued to relentlessly peeling apple after apple until the clock struck 8pm.
In all honesty, I could not in that time have shaved more than 100 apples. In fact, given the time it took to become accustomed to the practice, this assumption may be rather optimistic. We made apple mash for apple pie. Yet from that very soup kitchen over 4500 full meals including some type of carbohydrate, some form protein, a salad of some sort and maybe an apple pie are served everyday. In other words, my 70 plus apples in the grand scheme of things were relatively insignificant and are unlikely to have stood in the way of a hungry man and complete starvation. It was instead my efforts combined with the efforts of the other volunteers, some of whom I just met that day, that made a significant stride in the fight against hunger. Though of different faiths and backgrounds, that Sunday afternoon we colluded in faith and hope that our actions could make a difference and I believe that they truly did.
25 Days of Service taught me that even as a believer in Christ, I need not wait for the extravagant miracle of 5 loaves turned into 5000. I was already part of a miracle. One which turned painful apple shavings into 4500 beautiful meals. Collectively we can do that which we never imagined. With a little faith in humanity, we can and therefore must attempt to heal our world.