Loaves and Fishes at Trinity Church Logansport, Indiana
My attendance to the “Loaves and Fishes” at Trinity Church Logansport reminded me of a song (in French) we used to sing while in high school.
« Gens de toute race,
Amis et Etrangers,
Venez prendre place,
Il faut partager »
“People of every race,
Friends and strangers,
Come have a seat,
We need to share.”
Indeed, it profoundly resonated in my heart as I sat and looked around in the Trinity parish hall. People of every race and of all ages joyfully gathered and enjoyed a meal together. I went in as a stranger but was received as a friend. When I headed to the kitchen counter, a young girl, between 11 or 13 years old, warmly welcomed me and gently asked me if I was looking for food “to go or here”. Quickly, I remembered that, a few days ago, Fr. Clark mentioned to me that some would want to take their meal home while others would like to eat there and chat with those present. I replied, “Here”. Then the young girl said, “Would you please want to take a seat at one of the tables, and I will bring you food.” I then realized that all those who arrived after me went straight to get a seat, and one of the volunteers attended them. One minute later, she joyfully brought me lunch, which I enjoyed so much. Later on, I learned that that young girl, together with her parents, who by the way are not members of Trinity Church but live in its neighborhood, had come to help with Loaves and Fishes as volunteers. Not only has Trinity Church Logansport congregation opened its dining room to friends and strangers but they have also welcomed them in their kitchen. They prepare food together, serve food together, and eat together. Such community inclusion is outstanding and could only draw an admirable mix of people from different faiths into a gathering place that could likely become a think tank for a better community.
The “Loaves and Fishes” that I had a pleasure to attend was more than a community meal. It was a moment for recreation, too. At our table, after we introduced ourselves to each other, one fellow looked at me and asked, “How does a snowman go down in winter?” At first I was surprised by the question, but the funny look he gave me was enough for me to understand that he was bringing in jokes to pass the time. After a moment, I said, “I don’t know.” The gentleman laughed.
“Try again,” he urged.
“Hmmmm, I don’t know,” I finally responded.
“By icicles,” he then said. We all laughed, and those around us wondered what happened. In such a short time, we have connected, bound. Jokes continued, and more people joined in as our laughter grew louder and louder. It was around 12:00 pm when my friend said that he had to go. He took time to say good bye to everyone around the table. However, 3 minutes later, he had reappeared beside me. One of those at our table asked him if his truck had been stolen. With a big smile, he drew a game from his jacket pocket and put it on the table. The game was made of two twisted metal pieces, and the task was to sort them out. I was amazed by the energy the game brought into our midst. Everyone wanted to play. Indeed, we tried, but none, even those who had played that game before, was able to sort out the two pieces until my friend skillfully demonstrated the procedure. The game entertained us for more than 30 min, and everyone was still enchanted.
Obviously, that fellow seemed to know more than one game. I even wondered if he could have enough for a whole day. Nevertheless, I was touched by how much enthusiasm, laughter and connection this game brought in. I have no doubts that we could have discovered many more from all people gathered that day if there were someone to initiate the game time at each table. Gathering places such as “Loaves and Fishes” have the potential to let existing gifts emerge and be shared. The more people share their diverse gifts and talents, the more connections between them are woven, and the more existing networks are strengthened and new ones forged. In so doing, community members obtain assets that can be used for the sake of the community.
In addition to being a place where “capacities are used, abilities expressed, gifts given,” Loaves and Fishes of Trinity was a humanizing place. To be accepted and valued immensely contributes to human dignity. At the Loaves and Fishes, Trinity Church provided an opportunity for community service to someone who is still serving on probation for juvenile court. Through Loaves and Fishes, Trinity Church Logansport set an example of how, as a community of faith, the church participates in humanizing community members. Imprisonment is likely to take away one’s confidence, self-esteem, and good reputation. At the end, it erodes one’s hope. Community service such as serving and eating at Loaves and Fishes builds a social capital that can provide a smooth social integration by making one feel useful, valuable, and accepted again. The person gets reacquainted with human warmth and feels uplifted to dream for her/his future. In fact, to be part of a network nourishes one’s relationships, and to be involved in a church’s initiative can bring up a spiritual renewal.
Connections between residents in a community transform residents into neighbors. As a result, their community becomes a neighborhood. Then, care and creativity blossom as assets in the neighborhood emerge. Loaves and Fishes in Logansport is truly a celebration of growth and ownership of an initiative. May it continue to flourish and become more and more a think tank for the neighborhood. As Al Barret writes, may Trinity Church Logansport continues “to enable the telling of stories of ‘good news’, of giftedness and possibility, of reciprocity and abundance” in their neighborhoods.