It is a time honored tradition that Army families take care of one another, often providing meals, babysitting, or even dog walking services for those of our number who find themselves in need of a little help during difficult times.
I love that about our Army, among lots of other things. But a recent request to help with meals for a dear Army sister got me to thinking about the many of meals I’ve made and delivered to women and their families in my 31 years as an Army wife.
I have also, on more than one occasion, been the coordinator for the meals, which is a blessing and restores your faith in humanity as so many stepped forward eagerly to assist.
All of this led me to reminisce about an old market basket I have that is currently filled with decorative blankets from various assignments we’ve had over my Soldier’s Army career. It’s a basket made by my friend, Stacey. I didn’t know it was called a market basket, but the name fits. It is a large, rectangular basket intended to take to the market to get at least a couple of days’ worth of groceries. In Germany, the refrigerators are rather small. They do not require the huge monstrosities Americans have in their kitchens as the Germans mostly shop for fresh produce and daily or every other day is often the norm. Their rooms are not as plentiful for the most part nor as big as many in the U.S. So, since I was heading back to that lovely country, it was fitting that I receive this beautiful, but useful, basket to take along.
Little did I know that it would turn out to be the perfect size to hold a family meal. I wish I had started recording on the bottom the names of the families and the types of meals I would end up placing in that basket and toting to various locations around Germany and then the U.S. once we returned. Before I was given the basket, I usually made multiple trips from my car to the home when bringing a meal to a family in need. This made things so much easier! It is a sturdy basket, too.
Oh, if that basket could talk! I don’t share this so you can be impressed with the number of meals I’ve prepared and delivered, though. I share it because I was one of many Army Spouses who pitched in to help. I am not special in that respect. And that’s what I want to celebrate: the generosity and compassion of so many of our Army Spouses. We work long and hard to purchase and prepare meals for our own families, and then, when called upon, are happily, eagerly willing to do the same for someone else’s family when they are in need.
I love my basket, not for its beauty or utility, but for all the memories and for all the good women and families it represents: those who made the meals and those who so gratefully accepted and enjoyed them!
We are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Another way to phrase that is we are called to do Corporal Works of Mercy. Corporal means physical. We are instructed to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and visit the sick. We may not think about that when we are “moved with compassion” as Jesus is so often described in the New Testament. But that’s what occurred. We do it out of love for our fellow human beings. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
We don’t have to be gourmet chefs to provide a healthy, hearty meal to someone or to a family. We just have to have the desire in our hearts and the strength and energy borne of love to do it. I thank God for the basket Stacey gave me all those years ago. I thank God for the opportunities I’ve been given to deliver meals in it. And I thank Him for the people who have brought meals to me and my family when we were in need of some assistance after the birth of babies and a couple of surgeries that yours truly experienced.
I hope you have a basket to gaze upon and contemplate how richly you have been blessed to be the hands and feet of our Brother and Friend. What a great example, a light in the darkness that we are all called to be! And, if you’ve ever been the one to receive the meals, you have been blessed in another way, as well. We never seem to be able to do things for those who’ve done good things for us, but that’s okay. We will do it for another and we will do it out of love, sharing an awesome Army tradition that also happens to be a Catholic tradition!