I believe that God has no hands but ours. I believe that love is a verb and to show love we must take action. My primary action is lunch. Inexpertly but with passion, I have spent the past I-don’t-know-how-many years preparing lunches for my family and sometimes others. When my daughter, the oldest, was little, I put a special sticker in her lunch so she would know that I was thinking of her. Every day she put the sticker on her lunch box until it was covered with stickers. When her siblings got older and started taking a lunch box, I did the same for them, and as the kids grew the stickers turned into little notes. Sometimes the notes would come home with the rest of the lunch detritus and I smile every time I see the one last note I saved tucked away in the cupboard. On it my daughter had written “I love you, too, Mom.”
Over the years I experimented and tried to make a lunch that was both interesting and healthy. I have an entire book on making Bento boxes and have indulged countless hours on Pinterest gleaning ideas. In elementary school, my kids went to a school that had a cafeteria with food they liked. Perhaps it was a good thing and it became a treat for them to buy lunch at school. While I enjoyed a break from the work of making lunch, I held my own secret competition with the school cafeteria. I tried to sweeten up my lunch offerings with snacks like Nutter Butter cookies and bags of chips. At one point my running buddy informed me that my son was selling his lunches for $5 each piece. At the time I was embarrassed, but in hindsight I am in awe of his entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age. And, I wonder, what kid had $5 to buy a bag of chips?
Some years ago, the mother of one of my students died after a long battle with cancer. I believe there is no salve for that kind of wound, but I wanted to do something. I decided to make her lunch. I told her that I would make her lunch every day until she graduated from high school. I packed it in a brown bag and discretely left it in her homeroom. Everything was disposable so she didn’t need to worry about giving it back. I started a Google Doc for her to share her favorite foods with me. We’ve lost touch through the years, but I remember that year fondly and I hope that in some corner of her mind she knows that she is loved.
I believe we need one another. Desperately. I believe I can’t fix someone else’s problems any more than well-intended advice can fix my own. But I believe that when those we love (and those we don’t) are trudging through life, we can be there with stickers and a sandwich.