One of my favorite questions to ask people is “What was your favorite part of the day?” It is a great question; it makes people focus on the positive points of their day. It’s very easy on trips with lots of people to get bogged down in drama and the problems and struggles of being in a small space together for long periods of time instead of focusing on what we are here to do and why we chose to take this journey. This morning, I found myself caught up in this cycle. I was frustrated with those around me and not excited for the day. I didn’t want to leave the site I had worked on for two days in the hands of my friends, no matter how capable they were. I found myself resenting my new project instead of being grateful for the opportunity to help more people, those suffering with food insecurity. I knew my thoughts weren’t what they should have been, but I couldn’t seem to shake this feeling that I was being forced to abandon my project before it was finished. I spent the morning trying to stay out of the way and not spread my negativity to everyone else. We arrived at the food bank and started sorting and packaging sweet potatoes into five-pound bags. I’m not talking about just a few potatoes- more like thousands of potatoes waiting to be sent to help feed people through different agencies. As I began to pack and weigh the bags, I felt my bitterness slip away little by little and began to open myself up to the present experience. I found myself laughing at the jokes, participating in conversation, and even goofing around more than usual. The afternoon was very productive, and I enjoyed the time spent building relationships with everyone else who was there working with me. On the ride home, I began to think about what my favorite part of the day would be if someone asked me.
Asking people about their favorite part of the day instead of just how their day was is something that opens the door for positive conversation. It helps me to focus less on all the problems we are facing today and in the future, and instead places the attention on what is going well in the here and now. It doesn’t lessen the need to solve the problems or to sit in the times of trial, but it allows people to take a step back and evaluate the bigger picture and to find the light even on days when darkness seems to rule.
I wanted to share some of the community’s responses to the question “what was your favorite part of the day?” when they returned from their worksites this evening with you:
“I just enjoyed goofing off with people” -Bret
“Working with a small group and accomplishing a lot” - Olivia
“Getting to talk with Emilie while sorting potatoes” –Anna
“I enjoyed getting the chance to spend time with people and to get to know them better while serving others in a non-traditional way” -Emilie
“My favorite part of the day was having fun with friends while working” –Zach Burch
“Goofing around at the food bank today” –Jonathan
“I really enjoyed sitting down and eating a meal with our homeowners. We talked with them and they made a point to learn something about each one of us. At the end of the day- they gave each of us a hug and thanked us for everything we did and that was special too” –Holly
“I really enjoyed Interluding all over the food bank” –Michelle
“Today was the day I felt most useful. I got into a groove early and it continued all day. I also got to talk to the homeowner for a little bit which was wonderful” -Jessica
“Time spent alone and talking to each other” -Jack
“When the homeowner offered us fudge” -Sara
“That my crew was amazing and we got a lot of shingles done and that dinner was still hot when we got home” –Cory
“I’m a big picture person- so being able to take a step towards helping even some of the people suffering from food insecurity allows me to see how my actions can affect the lives of so many other people and allow me to take my place in that bigger picture of eliminating food insecurity” -Ashley
“I enjoyed teaching Jessica and Audrey how to lay shingles” –Preston
“Chatting over potato bags at the food bank” -Paige
“Getting to know Laurie better” -Cody
“I thought it was cool to hear about all the different ways that the food bank was involved in helping people all across the community and state.” –Rachel
“Meeting the homeowners, spending time with them, singing and crying with them” –Ms. Leigh Anne
You know, the projects will get as far as they will, regardless of whether or not I am personally there to work on them. My friends are more than capable of continuing the work I started, and if they don’t finish there will be another team to pick up the baton next week. Today was a good reminder that I don’t have to do everything myself. I don’t have to monitor the project I started, or even see it through to completion. I have to trust that I am a piece of a greater puzzle, a bigger community. This larger collective can do more together than I could ever dream of doing on my own. I am thankful for this community that challenges me to live interdependently and to rely on those around me when I can’t seem to find the strength to keep going alone. Community holds me up while I restructure the beliefs that support me and cheers me on to stand on my own when I feel that I am ready. My favorite part of today was the support and love that Wesley provided me in my time of weakness. They surrounded me with their presence and their words and allowed me to struggle when I needed to. Today, Wesley was the definition of community.