For about a week I had the unique experience of taking a couple of 3-year-olds on a daily 30-minute drive. This drive occurred each evening at 5:30 p.m. I am no early childhood expert, but I am an expert on myself and these little dears are very similar to me at that time of day: hungry and worn out.
On the first day of the drive, these usually good-spirited kiddos were whining and crying within minutes. I racked my brain for a way to make the commute without all three of us in total meltdowns. Luckily I found an apple in my gym bag and handed it back. The apple filled at least one of their needs and allowed us to focus on the important scenery on the drive — the trees, boats, planes and lights. We repeated this routine all week, with some timely help on the day I forgot an apple (thanks, Pat)!
There was an aspect to our routine that caught my attention each day. As I handed the apple back to the kiddos, the one without the apple whined and was very concerned that he would never get his chance. However, after they each had a bite they both trusted the apple would get passed back for another bite. They started to share lots of “please may I have the apple” and “thank yous” with each other that were so adorable they melted my, if not cold, somewhat irritable heart. When we got to where we were going, the apple was about a quarter eaten by the littlest bites.
The process caused me to reflect on my personal, and our society’s, views on scarcity. I am at my best when I let someone take a bite of the (metaphorical) apple first. When I trust what I know and see that there is enough to go around. When I am generous with what I have and don’t hoard more than what I need of the apple before passing it on.
Every day I have the privilege of walking with those in crisis. As director of Family Promise of Juneau, I encounter families during a time when they don’t know when their next meal will be or when their kids will have a roof over their heads. As director, I also get to walk with 500-plus volunteers. And as these generous volunteers provide food and hospitality for our Family Promise guests; it is not uncommon for them to be going through a personal crisis of their own.
But time and again, we all see there really is enough to go around. We realize even the littlest bites sustain us when we are willing to share that apple.
• Shannon Fisher is the director of Family Promise of Juneau. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.