Thursday, April 28, 2011

Faith in Every Ladle

People feel spiritual in various ways these days. Some feel their holiest while standing in the luxurious sanctuaries of worship centers. Others reach their highest spiritual potentials while staring at breathtaking views in exquisite locations. I, like many, originally thought that true faith was limited to those factors. That, however, quickly changed for me during my spring break.
Throughout one week, I noticed that God’s presence is not only felt in temples and churches, but also in the heart of South Broward County. Upon my arrival at the Jubilee Center’s soup kitchen, I was not expecting this one week of community service to significantly alter my outlook on a cup of soup, a smile on someone’s face, or even the boundaries of my own faith. Of course, it only took an hour to exceed those expectations by a landslide.  
The Jubilee Center, based off of the biblical concept of jubilee, or festivity, changes lives each and every day. This small facility is filled with both experienced social service workers and selfless volunteers, all who cater to the needs of the Jubilee benefactors. Every morning, the Jubilee Center serves over one hundred hot meals, ensuring that no one is left hungry. Families of any size and economical state are guaranteed undivided attention and nourishment during their daily visits, and even some of the most close minded people leave this soup kitchen and center smiling. Despite the recession and all the ignorance in the world, I take comfort in knowing that inside the doors of the Jubilee soup kitchen, the potentials to create our own jubilee are endless.
Every day at the Jubilee center is a miracle that is never taken for granted. Each bowl of soup is ladled and received with the upmost gratitude. The volunteers, varying from students, parents, and a seventy-eight year old former military officer, smile voluntarily and serve with not only with spoons and tongs, but also with their hearts. Without the chefs, social workers, and the committed, altruistic volunteers who never fail to smile each day, this thriving community haven would be lifeless.
Perhaps the most inspirational aspect of the Jubilee center is the receiving, grateful community. As over one hundred meals are served daily with no prior menu, each tray of food is returned with a thankful response. The people, varying in age, race, and gender, not only respect the food they are given, but also each other. Frequently, I noticed men standing courteously behind women, and the singles would create seating room for families. Prior to each meal, the entire community, including the Jubilee staff and volunteers, gathers in a circle just outside the front door, bows their heads, and prays in unity. At that very moment, all the gloves, hairnets, and differences in religion and race are put aside. During that powerful moment of prayer, I was holding hands with a man who did not know where his next meal would be, but praised God anyway. At that moment, with our eyes closed, we gratefully blessed the things we have in life today, rather than what we didn’t have. Each day of my spring break, I watched our united faith override hunger.
While the world is still far from arriving at universal and eternal peace, the places like the Jubilee Center only bring us closer to that goal. Synagogues, churches, and breathtaking views will still be open after we make a difference in our local communities. While there is still a sense of spirituality at those locations, it is the places like the Jubilee Center that expand our boundaries of faith and put our lives in perspective.  
This past week, I gained an understanding that God is not only available through prayer, rituals, or studying. Faith can be as beautiful and as simple as ladling soup into a bowl. The love and faith shared in each bowl of soup at the Jubilee Center proved that God really is working all around us; He dwells among us through both the brightest and dimmest times.
Since my eye-opening spring break, I wake up every morning thanking God for giving me faith, and the Jubilee Center for sustaining it.   

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