These days between Thanksgiving and Christmas coincide almost exactly with what Episcopalians and many other Christians call Advent. But I like to think of them as the Thankful Days, a bustling time of gratitude and hope. I am grateful for the support that continually flows in from so many of you. That support provided the thirty turkeys veteran Loaves and Fishes volunteer Ellen Baynard, assisted by students from Maret School, popped in our ovens the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Next day the bounty on our tables was plentiful. No guest departed hungry, no one was turned away. We were able to make all welcome.
I am grateful for the Loaves and Fishes work of Susan Walker, one of our key welcomers. Susan is a volunteer deacon on St. Stephen’s clergy team. In a recent conversation with another L&F volunteer, Susan said that her ministry as a deacon has led her to reach out particularly to people who live on the margins of society. Most Sundays she passes out copies of the day’s Gospel reading in Spanish and in English to Loaves and Fishes guests. Then she and they talk together about the reading and what is going on in their lives. “I always walk away surprised and grateful,” Susan said. “Surprised for what I learned, for conversations that I didn’t know where they were going, but they gave me a sense of an individual that I wouldn’t otherwise meet.”
Susan is grateful for conversations and community she has experienced in the dining room at St. Stephens. “To follow Jesus you have to be close to the poor, in some form or another, and that’s a place where gratitude comes in,” she said. “When you get to know someone just for a few minutes, something breaks down. When you are sitting at the table, there is some sort an opening made, a new space, and I get a sense of that person’s humanity and struggles and maybe some of his story relates to my story in some way. Making those kinds of connections is vital for my life. I am grateful for that; I am receiving gifts from unlikely sources.”
During the holiday season, it is especially important to help the less fortunate of our community. Your gift is so important because it will allow us to serve each and every person that walks into the dining room at St. Stephen’s for a warm, holiday meal and respite from the cold. Please donate today. And be grateful.
Chair, Loaves and Fishes Management Board