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An Uplifting Day With Visiting Volunteers


Thanks for a beautiful Karma Kitchen last Sunday!  As Emmanuel summed it up, it was uplifting not only on the surface and also elevating at a subtle level.
Our day started with our own reflections, with Arthur's story of reaching out to a homeless person or Erik's insights of not giving up or Cynthia's "I'm ready to get started now!" excitement.  Then we all split up into teams and got oriented.  Yuka was visiting all the way from Japan and Bela from DC!  As Shreya gracefully handled the hot-seat,Guri, Hannah and Varsha plated up a storm for all 138 guests!   Lauren not only offered up them sweet desserts but perhaps the most artful "theme of the day" (ever!), while Amy was zipping from the front to back.  And in perhaps the most awesome testimony to Andrew and Erik's dishwashing duo, Juan never even had to help them!  Although we had never worked together as team, we came together after a mere 15 minutes of orientation -- not just to serve food, but serve up generosity.  
Great work, everyone!  And thank you.
In reflecting back to our shared time together, I remember all those little moments of joy that we collectively put in motion.  A coffee shop owner came to dine at KK because one of her customers had told about the gift-economy and she had to see it to believe it. :)  Now, she is keen on doing something similar at Snappy's Cafe in Hayward.  A couple struck up a conversation with an elder next to them, and ended up leaving $20 to tag him with books that he loved to read.  A completely skeptical guest was drawn in by the "vibe" and by the end, she just couldn't stop raving about it.   We tagged people with little wisdom-filled gifts, Varsha's hand-made earings, and sometimes just a genuine smile. So many people who didn't know each other shared a table with "strangers" and ended up creating rich friendships.  The whole restaurant got together to sing a birthday song for Yuka, and one of the guests even shared a gift and offered up some spoken word poetry.   The whole ambiance was filled with a sense of electric joy.  Just like all of us, many others signed up to volunteers -- and were happily elated when we told them that we typically have a several-week waitlist to volunteer. :)  Generosity begets more generosity.
On the oustide, an oversized fellow named Ben was smoking and few seniors were not happy with the second-hand smoke; while we had no legal ground to ask Ben to stop smoking, I appealed to his empathy and requested him to move farther away.  He hesitantly agreed.  While they waited an hour for their table of six, we offered them some "raw, vegan, organic" coconut-macroons that were gifted to us by a woman in Colorado; they were very touched by it.   As they got seated, felt the ambiance and engaged in some conversation, they warmed up more and more to the spirit of Karma Kitchen.  At one point, Ben spontaneously got up from his seat and just enveloped me in a giant sized hug.  "I love you, man," he said.  It wasn't about me but more the space that we had all co-created; and so on behalf our posse, I replied back: "Love you too, buddy".  He was about to step outside for another smoke, and I told him, "You know, my friend, your lungs aren't going to be lovin' you so much if you keep smokin'.  How 'bout you not smoke this one time, in the spirit of generosity to your own self?"  He smiled.  Others on the table vocally agreed.  And he gave in, with a big smile.
One small act, one invisible friendship, one genuine smile at a time, we change ourselves and the world around us.  Thank you.

--MD and Arthur on Mar 2, 2012

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