What’s “inspiring” about the film A Place at the Table–a documentary about poverty and hunger, a film calling us to action in regards to a lack of nutrition for one in four kids in the USA?
I saw it last week—featuring actor Jeff Bridges, Ph.Ds, social workers, and ordinary people struggling to feed their children–or attend school without feeling hungry.
This film shows that “being hungry” doesn’t always look like the protruding bellies we’ve seen on television, children from sub-Sahara Africa or Bangladesh. There is hunger nearby, and it’s often kept hidden because people feel ashamed. Hunger in the USA often occurs at the end of the month, and obesity often results from poor nutrition.
“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
Ann Kastberg is another person living into the wonder. She’s one of those born-agains, but not in the way you might think: After a career as an accountant and years raising kids, she chose a new husband, and then she chose frogs. Russ is a great guy. As for the frogs, few people get more excited about these thin-skinned critters than does Ann.
With waders strapped high, she points to a slimy egg-mass, “Another one! It’s a Red-legged!” she hollers, and someone on the crew will squiggle a line to the tally of record.
When I met Ann years ago I wondered what drove her. I wondered how someone gets so dedicated, becomes an amateur-expert engrossed in the lives of frogs and salamanders–learning about the lifecycle of amphibians and tallying egg-mass-sightings for the use of scientists–as if earning her own Ph.D.
Since I’m not quite done with the frogging-story I’d promised to share this week, I’ll tell you about our time with Yuta. His stay with us reminds me of my own years of roaming and the people who allowed me into their homes when I didn’t know much about being a guest or hanging out in other cultures.
I made my first trip to live in Glasgow for a year when I was the same age as Yuta, 20. The Chinese grad-student who sat next to me on the flight from Vancouver, British Columbia to London was kind: She let me ramble. She answered questions. She never turned away or made me feel like the lost-kid I was.
As long as it takes
As long as voices need to speak
As long as people feel unheard
As long as someone’s history
lies buried under other’s dreams
As long as someone in the room keeps moving
won’t pause or open eyes
to see us waiting
As long as some in the room stand in charge
without listening to raised hands
As long as Russia wants and wants
and the USA, too, and soil
blows into dust
and muscles in the young man’s arm
fail to move Continue reading “As Long As It Takes — a poem”
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
Though Donna Roy grew up Catholic on a farm in Maine, from a young age she felt there must be more than a single way to view life.
“People do it differently all over the world,” she thought. “‘All those babies in China are not going to go to hell just because they haven’t been baptized,’ I can remember thinking–and I would cry at night sometimes.”
This gentle, inclusive view has informed Donna’s work in Korea and Bangladesh with locals, from coast to coast in the United States supporting newly-arrived refugees, and now as a therapist and teacher in Portland, Oregon.