Cracked and Bent

For the past 5 years, I've spent most Thursday mornings volunteering at Project Angel Heartan organization in north Denver that prepares and delivers nutritious meals to improve quality of life, at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illnesses. While my hour-long commute is sometimes patience-provoking, all my frustrations and general life's worries drop away after I clock in, don an apron and hairnet (I don't like hats, so am known as the hairnet lady) and greet the gang.

We are a motley crew of varying ages, genders, and backgrounds. We share stories about our families, travels, careers, movies watched, current events, etc. while dishing up zucchini and whatever the fish preparation of the week happens to be. (In five years, only a handful of times has the Thursday meal NOT involved zucchini and fish!) We congratulate one another (Karen finishing her sommelier courses, Children's Hospital nurse Kate completing the Boston Marathon and Michael's nuptials to partner Mel after 30 years together.) We console one another (Betty losing her son after a life filled with addiction and Teresa's tireless efforts to get her elderly parents moved into assisted living, then losing both of them in just over a years' time.) We tease each other... Dorothy don't be so bossy, speed it up Larry, Lori and Marsha quit talking and get that sealer running, does it really take two Johns, Mike and Dee to go find Amber? We laugh together, ALOT. We mess up occasionally... dropped pan of rice, spilled container of garnishing parsley, jammed sealing machine,  over-serve the gravy and run out, wrong labels.

My Thursday mornings are a time of relationship-building and shared love for others, for one another. The time spent at PAH is very important to me and a perfect example of how greatly our lives can be enriched by stepping out of our comfort zones and sharing ourselves with others. I go just as much for the people I've gotten to know there, as for the people who get the lovely decorated shopping bags of meals every Saturday.

Something struck me yesterday as I walked into the kitchen...There was a big plastic bin marked "cracked" sitting on a rolling cart. At first I wondered why they didn't discard the bin, then it occurred to me that it could still be used for holding chopped veggies, just not something with liquid. I rounded the corner and there was the metal cart, the one with the bent wheel that doesn't roll very well, but still holds trays. And there was Bruce using the "abused" food processor that has been around for as long as I've been coming to PAH. There are two other newer ones, but he likes the "feel" of this well-used one with the frayed cord. Logan hurries by with a misshapen spatula in hand. And so it goes, this space of good doings filled with the cracked, well-worn, bent, and misshapen. An honest description of some kitchen equipment, as well as the human folk scurrying about. Suddenly Queen's "We Are the Champions" blares from the sound system, we all burst into song and get busy on the 1200 or so meals we will serve and seal up in the next couple of hours.

Gracious and loving God, Thank you for never discarding us...your cracked, bent and well-worn children, for knowing that we still are useful and able to do your work, despite our frayed edges. Our imperfections and wounds are smoothed over by your unconditional love and the non-judgemental love shown to us by others. Thank you for blessing me with Thursday morning comrades and for opportunities to build relationships, while helping others. I hope it's not too much to ask that you fill Chef Jon's heart with a spirit of change....a change from fish to say, maybe, chicken, for our Thursday meal....? In your name I pray. Amen and amen.

Andrea Heshmati

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