Braving the Blue Norther

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Bob Waldrop, Community, Food and Drink, Social Justice, Volunteering | Posted on 22-12-2008


by Bob Waldrop

On Saturday afternoon, I was finishing up the day’s work of coordinating the delivery of food to 300+ low income households. As I moved empty boxes and bags from the U-haul to my pick-up, I was cold. I had on three layers of clothes, two coats, hat and gloves, but even so I was chilled to the bones. I had been in the cold most of that day, and as we all know, the Blue Norther came in early. A stray thought crept into my brain.  “Exactly why is it that you are doing this Mr. Waldrop?” 

I have had that thought before. I remember thinking it one hot August day, in the midst of the monthly Delivery Day of the Oklahoma Food Coop, at our non-air-conditioned facility.

Yesterday, as I thought about the day’s work, I remembered an elderly woman who died a few years ago. We delivered food to her every month for years. On the last Christmas that she was alive, she gave me a card, and it had 2 quarters taped inside. When I opened it and saw the coins, I burst into tears. Here was truly a Widow’s Mite. I have that card and those quarters to this day, and every so often I just take it out and look at it. 

Some would have us believe that there is nothing more to life than greed and selfishness. To those who hold these views, what happens on the Delivery Day of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, or at a Catholic Worker delivery day, would seem almost incomprehensible. Both events  are ecumenical affairs – religiously, politically, socially, and culturally. Many of these volunteers would not ordinarily be in the same room or even necessarily on speaking terms. Yet, we find in these works of social justice and environmental sustainability, common cause,  common ground, and a common hope. 

We do not lack for issues that divide us these days. Indeed, the polarization that grips our politics and economics is deadly for community, but countering that polarization is the growing realization among a diverse group of people that we are all in this together. There’s a name for that feeling, and it’s called solidarity. That’s why fifty people gave up time this past weekend to engage in a little distributive justice. That’s why people come back, month after month, and work hard at the delivery day of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. That’s why, in the midst of all the crises and dooms that confront us, I remain hopeful. The way I figure it, if we can get people to work all day in an un-air-conditioned warehouse to distribute local foods and get people out in the midst of a cold blue norther to deliver groceries to low income people they don’t even know, then there is nothing that cannot be done.

In the midst of the darkness of the growing shadow of Mordor over Middle Earth, the enormity of his task confronts Frodo, and he says plaintively to Gandalf that he wished that these events were not occurring in his time. Gandalf replied, "So do I, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

So as the troubles come so fast we can barely keep up with the flow of events, never forget that every moment we can create a future that we will want our children to live in. If you seek a solution to economic and ecological crises, random and deliberate acts of beauty, kindness, wisdom, justice, and sustainability are all good places to start.

Comments (2)

I am guilty of directing all of my concern and worry about MY state of affairs and forget to think about those I do not see with my eyes. I work to prepare myself for what may come, and it mostly feels like a solitary, lonely effort. In reality many people are working to help themselves and others, and in helping myself, I hope to help others. You, Mr. Bob, are a terrific role model. Thanks for your incredible efforts. Poverty is a very lonely place.
A country or community is only as wealthy as it’s poorest.
This country is guilty of only heaping praise and more money on the wealthy.
So thanks for your big heart and hard work Bob.

Oh, Bob, this made me cry. This is so beautiful.
It’s so easy to forget that we’re in this together. Thanks for your great example and leadership.