Sometimes the cup runneth over, that is, the volunteer cup. Nearly as distressing as not enough volunteers is too many volunteers. Too many volunteers mean folks go away from the experience feeling they weren't needed and don't return for another day. That is one reason we maintain a handy sign-up sheet, on-line (http://tinyurl.com/cnsshelterdinnersignup). The various tasks and shift times are listed for several months in advance so that potential volunteers can sign up early (and often!). In January, several new, potential volunteers contacted me to see if they could volunteer even if the slots were all filled. I had to say a reluctant "no" but with encouragement to sign up for the next dinner.
In January, Vivian C. signed up for shopping. She had not previously shopped for the Shelter dinner and had lots of questions. Our e-mails back and forth burned up the atmosphere for awhile. In the end, all the necessary ingredients were purchased and delivered right on time and with a grin.
In the kitchen were Billi, Doug, Eve, CJ, and Yonit. Dani orchestrated the quinoa vegetarian stew, the green salad, and tea. Vicky came and read to us a wise men of Chelm story that provoked some interesting discussion. R. Stuart "supervised". He and I discussed the possibility of the CNS Jazz Combo providing dinner entertainment at a future Shelter Meal. Sari, Jerry G., and Barbara W. helped pull the dinner together, served, and cleaned up, Shifra, Stephen, and Ruth baked delicious cookies and mini-cheesecakes.
We had a lot of food left over, even though several of the guys came back for seconds and thirds. When this happens, we pack up the leftovers into take away boxes and hand them out to the men and women who are sleeping in the park across the street or on the front steps of the Veterans Memorial Building. The night air was very cold and they were very grateful for the unexpected hot meal.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…