By Gloria Freeman
All Saints Sunday not only brought a poignant remembrance of loved ones who have passed on, but also ushered in the time for another church potluck.
I braced myself during the church service believing wholeheartedly that in a few moments I would be partaking in the food my fellow parishioners had brought to pass at the potluck, which although always is healthy and hearty, tends to be pretty bland. I mean, not to be funny, but in an era of a hypersensitivity to food allergies and kale-infused smoothies, there’s only so much taste you can squeeze out of soy bacon and gluten-free pancakes.
Much to my surprise, after sauntering past the reverend who stood at the back door greeting church goers after giving the benediction, I approached the potluck area to find a bottle of cayenne pepper prominently perched on the potluck table. I was so delighted I ran into the fellowship hall and asked who had brought the cayenne pepper?
Turns out, it was a woman named Faith, who had inadvertently brought the cayenne pepper, which made my day (not that the pastor’s sermon wasn’t extremely moving and meaningful).
I immediately plopped myself down next to Faith to dig into a delicious bowl of chicken chili, now beautifully peppered with the hot kick of cayenne sprinkled atop. The chicken chili hit my mouth right before devouring a delicious piece of ice cream cake, which admittedly in my excitement, almost got doused with a dash of cayenne pepper.
While talking, Faith informed me that after seven years, she had quit her job as a corporate human resources representative to take a job as an employment counselor at a local nonprofit. I was rather shocked to hear the news that she had left the trappings of corporate America for the grittiness of assisting young people, helping them to seek – and keep – a job.
I couldn’t help notice the newfound sense of peace and serenity that washed over Faith as we discussed this recent development in her life.
Listening to Faith talk about the excitement she had regarding her new career choice, I couldn’t help but notice the power of following one’s heart instead of obsessing about the pocketbook. This led me to reflect on arguably one of the most powerful questions we can ask a young person, which is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
In asking this one question of a young person it delivers the message you believe in his or her potential; you have faith in the hope of days yet to come, and it’s alright to dream big, beyond the circumstances and one’s current lot in life.
Faith’s story reminds us that it’s not only alright to ask one another, no matter our age, race or gender, what each of us wants to be when we grow up; it’s one of the greatest gifts we can bestow on one another.
Hearing Faith share her inspiring story about living into God’s generous desires for her reminded me that cayenne pepper is not the only way to heat things up in a spectacular way. Rather, it may be answering the call within while living into our own hopes and dreams that really provides the spice of life many of us are searching for.
Gloria Freeman is president/CEO of Olu’s Center, an intergenerational childcare and senior day program, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.