All posts by Gary Poole

New Year – Old Habits

When I was a kid, somehow I managed to find myself in a strange church on a Sunday morning with my parents.  We were visiting my mother’s hometown of Franklin, Indiana and I was dragged into the church where she had grown up.  It was the first Sunday after New Year’s Day.  Not only did I have sit through a boring worship service, but I was also escorted to a Sunday School classroom filled with kids my own age.  They looked at me; I looked at them.  They didn’t want me there; I didn’t want to be there.  Such is life.

The teacher had a simple lesson plan for the day.  She handed out paper and pencil and asked us to write our resolutions for the New Year.  I looked around the room and knew immediately that I wasn’t going to write anything because I didn’t know these people well enough to tell them of my shortcomings!  After several agonizing minutes the teacher called for our responses individually.  When she got to me, she innocently asked, “What are your resolutions?”  My response went something like, “Well, I didn’t write anything down.  Resolutions are so lame.  If I need to do something differently I’ll just do it.  Writing them down is just a waste of time.”  Nothing like being defensive!

The teacher just leered at me.  Finally, she uttered words that I obviously still remember to this day.  “You are the youngest cynic that I have ever met!”  I wasn’t sure what a cynic was, but I was sure that once I found out I would wear it as a badge of honor.  Perhaps that’s why when people talk about resolutions today my body enters into involuntary spasms.

Little did I know that my early childhood experience would become the logo for Nike footwear.  You’ve seen their swoosh symbol and you’ve heard their motto – “Just do it.”  Wow, maybe they’re cynical, too.  Cynicism aside, I think that all too often we talk about getting something done, rather then actually doing it.  I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere to learn.

Anyway, now that we have been around “Robin Hood’s barn” (an old farm saying) a couple of times, I’m confessing to you that I’ve been really bad about blogging on a consistent basis.  Somehow blogging is the always the last thing on my “to do” list.  So, I’ve made a resolution for 2012.  I’m going to blog more.  But I’m not going to talk about it.  (That would be blogging.)  I’m just going to do it.  Swoosh!

Hope and Hunger

The Christmas season brings many joys. It also brings a heightened awareness of those around us who struggle with finding joy in the midst of a season of excess and extravagance. We plan for parties and celebrations with people we cherish, thinking little of the expense of entertaining friends or feeding family. When I’m in the grocery store filling my cart with the ingredients for once-a-year delicacies and delights, the person next to me is hoping to fill her family’s stomachs one more day, one more week.

I’ve been there—wondering what to feed our children for dinner and then what would they have for breakfast the next morning. Between food pantries, food assistance, and the occasional bag of groceries left anonymously on our front porch, we were able to keep our house payments paid up, our utilities on, and have gas in our cars to make it to work. That’s just one of the reasons I love to splurge on meals for my family and friends. They helped me when I needed it.

So, this year, as we have for many years, we will take a Saturday, take some friends and family, and head down to Cass to make a hot lunch for about 250 people. We splurge! Over a dozen youth and adults helped last month, including one youth who baked 243 cupcakes for the Cass community meal. We made about 700 sandwiches. Those supply a nutritious meal for anyone held in a Detroit precinct on the weekends. Without them, they would go hungry, too. In a matter of hours, we touched nearly 1000 lives.

This month, our HeartWorks Ministries will take us to Gleaners. We will pack food pantry boxes that give families some food security in the cold, Michigan winter days ahead. Children will have something to eat when they get home from school and something to fuel their bodies when they get up in the morning. It only takes a few hours and a few hands to help keep a family strong and healthy and hopeful. You see, that’s the big deal about the Christmas season—hope. We have hope in the presence of Christ with us always. We have hope in God’s love to transform our world. We have hope that the economy will get stronger, that men and women will find meaningful employment that will pay enough to cover the basic necessities and give them a little more to share with others.

That’s a definition of wealth that I love—having enough to share with others.

I know you have a little time and energy to share with others. I know you have more than a little hope to share with others. See you on December 17th at Gleaners in Detroit. We will move a mountain of food and make hunger a thing of the past for someone. Call me at 248.476.8860 to learn how or contact Gleaners to set up a volunteer day on your own.