Jack is a friend from St. Joseph’s Parish, in Mission. He was probably one of the first people we met when we moved into Mission 11 years ago. He also somehow got us working at the food bank every Friday night for the past however many years. (Of course, when I say that he “got us” working at the food bank, I really mean that he got Scott and the older kids.)
Jack is passionate about the people he helps at the food bank and has given a lot of himself to it.
Another thing Jack apparently does is make jam.
A few weeks ago there was a knock at the door and the kids rushed to open it. I was washing dishes but could hear a familiar voice.
“It’s Jack! He brought us jam!” yelled someone.
I wiped my hands off and got to the door just in time to say hello and goodbye.
“We told him that we like blackberry jam last week and he said he’d make us some,” someone explained. I thought it was odd that the topic of jam had come up in the few seconds the kids would have had to chat. Anyways, in their hands were three lovely jars of jam; blackberry, as promised, strawberry, and quince. They lasted only three days. I have a lot of kids, what can I say?
“This is the best jam I’ve ever had,” said someone.
“Oh! Yours is really good too, mom … I just think this is so good too.”
The following Friday the older kids were performing in a show, so I actually got to join Scott at the food bank. The little guys came along to “help,” which means they passed me a few bags and then ran to try the elevator.
Wendy, another faithful volunteer and organizer, is always there on Fridays with Scott. She and I were chatting, and I mentioned how lovely it was that Jack surprised us with jam. She told me that she had also been a recipient, but that hers was made specially with Splenda, because she can’t have sugar.
I don’t know if I can explain why, but the fact he made Wendy special jam, just for her, really stayed with me. It meant he hadn’t just sat at home with a pile of over-ripe fruit, trying to find a way to get rid of it. It meant he had actually thought of certain people, individuals specifically, and acted upon that thought.
What does that mean, to be a thought? For someone, sitting someplace else, to think of you, to bring you, to keep you, individually, into a conscious moment? I don’t think it would occur to me that there are many people thinking of me at any given moment. I know there are times when someone comes to my mind, but they may never have proof of it.
Pope Benedict said, “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed. Each of us is loved. Each of us is necessary.”
I love this truth so much, because it means that I am not random. God thought of me? I was in the mind and heart of God? It’s too bad we have so many sentimental songs and pictures in our times. I think it takes away from the absolutely shocking and terrifying meaning of this reality. I come into the mind of God. Say it to yourself, “God thought of me. And he remembers me still.”
Because we were first thought of by him, we are worthy to be thought of by others. That isn’t to say that I deserved Jack’s jam. It is to say that God’s thought made me his own, and as a thought of God, I am worth remembering. As a thought of God, you are worth remembering.
I have been trying to focus on selflessness in our morning offerings. I want the kids to have the space left within themselves to remember the others God has called them to love, to serve, to witness to. That isn’t easy. Christmas is coming, and the devil is working to turn this sacred time into a narcissistic joke. He is, of course, the Antichrist, who twists into opposites and reversals. Impoverished mangers are replaced with vulgar plastic blow-up “decorations.” Charity and thought for the poor is replaced with children writing lists of their expected wants. Anything at all to distract us from thoughts.
This is all to confuse us. It’s a smoke-screen to make us forget. But Advent is the perfect proof of God’s remembering. God thought of his children and acted upon that thought, at his own great cost. This is something to remember, the beauty of what began as a thought: love, salvation, sacrifice – three things we were made worthy of.