I just made room for five turkeys in my freezer. I know this says a lot about me and what I keep in there, but every half consumed box of ice cream went in the trash, every item not essential or new relocated or disposed of.
I was told two turkeys, and what arrived in my driveway moments ago was hands down love. It was seven turkeys, bags of groceries; canned goods and stuffing and instant mashed potatoes. It is enough to feed an army, and I hope that army is coming. I hope they stop here first, I hope I get to feed them.
My column was just finished and I was proofreading as Casey said, someone is here, and I remembered the turkeys. My column was about how when we open our hands, when we accept what other people want to give us, we are blessed a hundred times over. It was about how when we close our doors, make fists of our hands, we push away the things that can help, we refuse the medicine and the water, we keep going our way alone and empty and hungry.
These turkeys aren’t for me. They are for the people who live in our town who need a turkey, or who need a meal. These turkeys are for the woman who gave them to me, they are a paying forward of all the blessings she has experienced. These turkeys are her buying them and me throwing out old ice cream to receive them. For now they languish in my freezer, another day they feed people who are hungry.
So they sort of are for me. They are a message that saying what I believe and then acting on it, always trying to stand outside with my hands open, sometimes in the sun, sometimes (like this week), in the pouring rain, well, I am receiving what the world will give me. And I am giving it to the people who need it more.
My thoughts are jumbled, skipping around between images of me actually standing in the rain, and hospice dog and the way the parish hall looks on a Wednesday night when the people we fed, our people, are breaking down tables and chairs and putting them away, and the cutlery clinks and the glasses get put back in their snug sideboard and the red tent lifts as we shift in and out…
I miss my people, I miss these women, I miss these men who come in for a meal that I maybe only dished up, cleaned up. I miss singing in the choir and I miss watching our liturgy, the way we do it at home, I miss watching that play out on the weekends I am away. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by the harmony in the choir loft, by the way John deftly fills in the sweet sounds of music, the way I can hear my brother singing at the altar that I get a little teary. These are grateful tears.
And they are tears that would not have come had I not opened my hands.
Had I not at some point I cannot identify decided to do more than sing.
Had I not decided to care.
I will borrow a phrase from my brother here, this is your warning.
Open your hands, beloved of God.
Smile back when smiled at.
Wish others a good morning.
Let people in when you’re in traffic.
These are the smallest things. We can start here.
I promise you that if you will open your hands and let the world in you will be amazed at what it brings to you.
7 turkeys, and bags and bags of groceries. And people who are fed. And my soul, fed also on an anthem published in 1897, in choir masters who are tired, in soloists who jump in like I did. Fed with our love and our energy.
We can upset this world.
(Won’t you help me?)
We really can.
I’ll be waiting for you, I’ll keep my hands open and I’ll take what you bring me.
Keep your hands open too, and keep an account of the strange things that fall into them, blessings and bird shit, love and regret. These things are yours, and they are mine too, because we belong to each other.
I love you still, always.