Yogi Bhakti Projects: The Shelter Stories
It Starts with Soup
It all starts with soup, as every meal in life, real and figurative, should, warm and inviting. This is especially true when preparing to feed friends you haven’t met yet. I ventured out with a large pot of lentil and kale soup prepared devoted volunteers to the Yogi Bhakti Projects. We headed to The Gathering Place in East New York, our troop of volunteers and me, for the first time. I will admit to feeling nervous, as it was the first time to offer food in a shelter. I have been in service for a very long time, but this is truly something different, serving from our hearts and hoping they would be open to the offering. We sat at tables and learned about our new friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters.
I say next to Mike with Brianna, on of the YBP volunteers, across from us. Mike proposed marriage to her, which was a sure sign that love was all around. Many were laughing and enjoying the soup. Another man approached me and asked if we could talk. I said “of course” and excused myself from the table. He asked: “Are you Hindu?” I could tell by the cross around his neck that he was Catholic. I replied “I was raised Catholic.” Not satisfied he asked “but now?” I placed my hand on his shoulder and said “I am all religions that preach peace and love for one another.” Still not satisfied he said “I am Catholic and a lot of my friends here are too, and we cannot take soup from a Hindu.”
I smiled at him and whispered into his ear: “My brother, I need you to be Christlike, accept this soup for it is a gift from God as all food is.” He may not have taken any soup, but others did.
The pot was empty when we left, smiles were glowing, and a new bond to an extended family had begun.