Food—it’s essential to our survival, and it becomes a centerpiece for strong social connections. Sharing food with a new mother or family in grief gives more than nutrition to their weary hearts. The smells and tastes of a dish today can transport me back to gatherings that happened years ago. And as we approach the holidays, I will remember the meals I savored with those who are no longer living.
As a mother, I’m amazed at the strong, instinctual desire to feed my children. My oldest son is 10, and he’s starting to learn how to prepare food, a big step on his journey to independence. He can cook an egg, make a sandwich and is working up to Mac-n-Cheese (the boiling water and the heavy pot is still tricky). But will he know how to feed his soul as an adult? Will he be able to find peace when the journey gets rough? Will he be able to comfort another? Will he find joy in his work, family and friends? When words like church, God and hate find their way into the same sentence, how will he find a spiritual home?
I don’t know what his future holds, but I do know he won’t be able to do it by himself. My role as a parent will move to the background, while friends, work, church and media in all its forms will move to the forefront. I hope and pray he will find support on his journey that helps him to be the best he can be. While he’s still in his formative years, every time I say to him, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I’m offering soul food. And that nourishment is bigger than me. It’s bigger than him. It’s bigger than all of us.
When I joined the Valley Living board in 2010—I wanted to give back to something bigger than me—with a larger reach and a greater impact than what I could do alone. Since then, Valley Living has distributed over 300,000 copies, and I truly believe many of those publications and articles found people who needed to hear words of encouragement, stories of hope and examples of inspiration. As our organization reaches a crossroads, I invite you to join with me. I support organizations that feed the hungry and provide shelter for the poor. I also support organizations like Valley Living that feed our human need to connect with others and our need to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
So how do you feed your soul? And how do you feed the souls of others? Your gifts, when shared at the right time and with the right people, can multiply and have a greater impact than you realize.
Trisha Blosser is board chair of Valley Living and resides with her family near Harrisonburg. She works in development for Explore More Discovery Museum.