I stand in front of the pantry and tap my toes, grumbling, “There’s nothing to eat!”
And then I laugh bitterly because I have one of the best stocked, most organized pantries I have ever seen.
Considering the rest of my house is in, well, appalling disarray, please let me have this Martha Stewart moment.
Everything is beautifully organized–grains here, pastas there, and canned food over there on the left. Tuna bottom right, a nice variety of fresh bread bottom left and an endless supply of granola bars and gourmet crackers and–and it pains me to say this–a giant bag of Veggie Straws. Everything is fresh, everything is stocked, and with a little note to my husband, anything can be refilled.
My pantry is full; there’s nothing to eat. That’s a farcical paradox if ever I heard one.
Especially in the fast, we tend to spend a lot of time complaining that there’s nothing to eat, or at least nothing 3ala mazagna — that awakens our appetite. As if eating exactly what we want is some kind of basic right, as if eating exactly what we want will fill some kind of hole in our heart (or stomach).
Shame washed over me as I looked at that pantry and down at my expanding waistline. Nothing to eat? Nothing but eating, more like it.
The other day my daughter and I were sitting in the “big bed” as we call it, snuggled under the comforter, each with a device in our hands. We were discussing something at the time and at one point she said, “That’s not fair.”
“Life’s not fair,” I said with conviction, thinking about our warm house, our spacious backyard, and, yes, our very full pantry.
I thought about that woman we met once at the park downtown. She seemed gentle, in her late 50s, and was asking me if I had any extra clothes in my car. She was homeless, had wet her pants, and had nothing to change into. I was completely baffled how to help. I had no cash, I had no extra clothes, I looked frantically at the area where we were and I knew of no clothing stores within even a 15 mile radius. I felt so helpless and so confused. I carried extra food and toiletries in my car, so I gave her that bag, but… it wasn’t even what she needed.
I’m a modest person, so I keep telling myself. I don’t have more than my fair share. But there’s a little tingle in my heart as I think on the words of St. Basil the Great — yes, the very same one who wrote the Divine Liturgy we use every single week:
“The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked.”
It’s a philosophy that flies in the face of modern day materialism and the prosperity gospel. I can’t even have an extra coat in the closet?
Recently, I was browsing through Facebook as I tend to do more often than I care to admit, and I came across a great video ad for GiveBackBox.com.
It’s Christmastime. Wonderful Christmastime. The postal services are completely overwhelmed. I’m receiving packages in the middle of the night as weary drivers try to meet their deadlines. Before we’ve even processed their knock at the door, they are off to their next delivery, and we’re left shouting, “Thank you!” to the empty street.
But what to do with all those empty boxes? GiveBackBox has an idea–mail them, filled up with goodies, to charities for free.
So when your new shoes come in a box from Amazon, fill the box up with the old pairs you no longer want or need and send them off to Goodwill with a free, printable shipping label.
Or fill it up with old t-shirts you’ve grown bored of.
Or fill it up with that extra coat and make St. Basil proud.
Oh! And it doesn’t have to be an Amazon box — any shippable box will do.
As for pantry goods, donating cans is no longer the recommended way to keep your local food bank stocked. So what can we do to be helpful (as opposed to just feeling helpful)? Maybe consider donating a portion of your weekly grocery budget to the food bank. If you know you spend $100 on groceries each week, commit $10/week to the food bank. And just think, if you manage to reduce your grocery purchases by that 10%, perhaps there will be less food waste in the house as well.
And let’s make a pact together. Let’s call ourselves out when we think, “There’s nothing to eat.” Because we are blessed with more food–and more food options–than we know what to do with.
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