The prompt yesterday was:
What better way to start the week than with food? Some of us struggle to share a box of popcorn, whilst others happily over-feed everyone who crosses their threshold. Wherever you are on that spectrum, consider this: food has brought people together since the dawn of time. Use it as a means to build relationship today.
GREEN:Cook for your friends or family tonight, and try to make sure everyone sits together to eat at the same time. Don’t rush the meal – enjoy each other’s company.
AMBER:Don’t let them dine alone: the guy selling The Big Issue, the girl everyone ignores at college, a friend in hospital (because let’s face it, hospital food is rarely fine dining…), or someone you know who is home alone today. Ask what their favourite treat is and take it along with you.
RED:Share food with a stranger today: you might pay for someone else’s meal in a restaurant, or strike up a conversation with the person behind you in the queue. Whether you choose to give someone the gift of food anonymously or with a friendly hello, make a point of blessing someone you don’t already know.
So the plan was to buy a cake for the smiley secretary at the offices of the Chambre de Comerce et Industrie (CCI) where I teach a couple of lessons a week. Of course, Monday in France can be a tricky day to find shops open, as it still is regarded a little like Wednesday half-day-closing used to be in the UK, so I wasn’t very hopeful. However, on my way to the CCI I pass a couple of very nice looking patisseries, both of which were open.
I bought a tartelette au citron meringuée for Frédérique
and, as we were going to friends in the evening, a couple of other tartelettes for them. When I gave Frédérique the tartelette she was quite overcome and “très touchée” She asked why, but I didn’t want to go into the whole 40 Acts spiel, partly because I couldn’t begin to explain it in French, and partly because I think it then sounds like “I’m only doing this because I was told to…” (!!) So I just said “Why not?…Because it’s Monday…” and left it at that.
In the evening we went across the road to become initiated in the mysteries of the French card game Tarot, and I gave Monique & Michel the two tartelettes then. Tarot is nothing to do with the Occult (I was a bit nervous about that when it was first proposed that we should play) but is a fiendishly complicated game. Quite frankly I don’t think I was any the wiser at the end of the explanation than at the beginning, but it was good to spend the evening with Monique & Michel. We are in the midst of teaching them Cribbage (which they are finding as difficult as I was finding Tarot!) so we played a game of that too. We finally rolled across the square back to our house at 11.45.
And today we’re going out for lunch with some friends who have a second home here. That seems like a fair bit of food sharing going on!!
Perhaps I should get on with some work…But no! There is Act N° 6 to consider…
One key to a generous life is to be good stewards of what we have. Today’s the day to say I’m bored of the hoard, and put the stuff we have to even better use. What do you have hidden away in cupboards that someone else could benefit from? Who might need/want it? Could you give it away or lend it out today?
GREEN:Start simple: gather together a few bags of stuff to take to your local charity shop. And not just the scraps, people – let’s give some good stuff away too!
AMBER: Go back to your circles – who might need what you’ve got? This may take a little more thought and effort (e.g. sorting out bundles of kids’ clothes, digging out old tools, fixing an old bike ready for giving away, or wiping a laptop). Be intentional about what you give and to whom.
RED: Organise a clothes/book/jewellery/ tool swap. Contact the people in your circles to see who would be interested in helping out or hosting, and then find ways to spread the word. A great way to minimise clutter, meet someone else’s need, and make new friends all at once.
It’s relatively easy to sort through the wardrobe and pick out things you’ve not worn for a while, or you don’t like, or that don’t fit, and to hand them over to Emmaus, or a charity shop. Because you don’t want them any more, so it’s no real sacrifice.
The harder thing is handing over something that you still like, or that is in good condition and you might wear again. I certainly am less inclined to do that. I don’t enjoy sacrificial giving (they might not appreciate it…No, you don’t want me to do that…But what good would it do…Oh, I can find the excuses!!). The blog post linked to by 40 Acts examines this in more detail over here
One thing I have too many of is books. And I am often buying more (Those 99p deals on Amazon are hard to resist!). Last year I offered English books to a local Lycée, but they weren’t interested. This year, my friend Richard, who knows several English speaking people who moor their narrowboats/cruisers in the port in Roanne, told me that there is a “lending library” – or perhaps a “swap shop” would be a better term for it – of English books in the Capitainerie at the port. I’ve already given him a few books to take down, but I might well make the effort to do a big “cull” – both of books I know I won’t read again, but also of others that I have enjoyed, and might well re-read (I can read books multiple times, with little or no diminishment in the pleasure). However it won’t be till the weekend.
An interesting thought about blogging on how we are fulfilling 40 Acts. Another blogger who I “met” through 40 Acts last year wrote, after citing Matthew 6: 3-4, But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “I need to be careful I’m not ‘bragging’ about my giving or helping. I need to just get on with it! So with that, I’m not going to be posting my acts daily this year. We are just going to get on with it.”
I can see her point, although I certainly don’t feel like I’m bragging here. I see this as a way of holding myself accountable – but what do you feel? As readers of this blog, I would be interested in your opinions.