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Weekly Blog

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Valentines Day 2009: Spread the Love!

Along with 25 others - a fearless group of five Sarvodaya members ( set out on Valentines Day with one objective: spread the love in San Francisco!

A group of friends gathered together in the city early Saturday morning to prepare bag lunches with vegetarian sandwiches, chips, fruit, and other snacks. Together with some hand-made Valentines cards and 'Free Hugs!' signs, the crew split up and hit the streets to share food and spend time with those in need (of a lunch or just a hug :))

The experience was absolutely memorable. When you approach a stranger with nothing other than a desire to serve, an everyday interaction becomes extraordinary. Food was the context for sharing, but something deeper was exchanged. I was particularly touched by one homeless man whom I had given a lunch. "Actually, I can't take this," he told me, "I already had a sandwich from someone else handing out food earlier today." I was shocked! Here's a person who has so little, but does not waver in his honesty. Needless to say, we told him to keep the lunch but give us a hug :)

The group reconvened in the evening to share stories and reflect on the experience. In the room were professionals, students, parents, kids (even a young 4 year old on her first service outing!), and a group of 5th graders from a school in Oakland. Everyone was exhausted, but definitely grateful for the experience. In reflection, one thoughtful member in the group asked, "What did we really do today? We just handed out lunches. Isn't it patronizing? What difference will it make?" I felt inclined to reply: "Today, we decided to take a simple act of sharing food into an opportunity to cultivate compassion in our hearts. We don't really help anyone, but we definitely help ourselves. This day reminded me that every single moment is an opportunity to be compassionate, to connect with another; I feel grateful for the opportunity created by the group to spread the love!"


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