Saturday, May 8, 2010

Midnight Run - A run for service (7-May-2010)

Now that I've been associated with the First Presbyterian Church, Ossining for a month, I am getting some real good opportunities to do 'seva' and keep my soul and mind in right shape.

Yesterday, I volunteered in a unique program (very special for me to remember in my current life), called 'Midnight Run'.. now wait its not an overnight marathon of sorts which you may imagine ;-). It is just called so, perhaps, coz you race against/give up the comfortable sleep of midnight, to serve the homeless and needy who may actually have many sleepless/troubled nights due to their poor economic condition!

In this event coordinated by the Midnight ( here in Westchester, NY, our church FPC participated as a donor along with a few other churches like the Briarcliff one. We collect food materials, clothing, tolietries, medicines etc. to distribute among the homeless and needy right in the heart of the affluent New York city!

I was picked up by my nice friend, Bob Supino and his wife, a wonderful service-minded couple in the church with caring hearts. They've been coordinating this for years under the patronship of our church pastor, Lynda.
We arrived in the church by around 7.45pm. We could see a lot of items coming from different churches, family neighborhood arriving at the church. Then the activities begun.

(1) Make food packs - Take bread, cheese, ham, veg. leaves and make sandwiches (like in assembly there were some school/college going young boys/girls enthusiastically working their gourmet/packing skills ;-)), put some fruits, cookies, milk, etc. and seal them
(2) Organizing clothes - arrange by men, women and children clothing and label the sizes - shirts, pants, jeans, inner wear, blankets, jerkins, sweatshirts etc.
(3) Categorize toileteries - soaps, shampoo, oral care, medicines etc.
(4) Packing all into cartons.
(5) Preparing hot coffee/ veg. soup cartons.

After all work, it was time to start (about 9.15 pm). We decided to go as a team of 4 cars..with the relief materials. Lynda introduced all of us to each other, Bob read out the ground rules and safety instructions and finally Lynda gathered us in a small group prayer :-) (very touching)

Then we started off to New York city. I joined Rich (a financial investment consultant with wide industry experience of 20+ years). We discussed a lot during the 1-hour long journey - topics from church, religion, economic meltdown, India and emerging markets economies (and finally got close enough to discuss families :-) )

We reached Manhattan and per plan had four main places to cover - parks, cross-road junctions, church areas and under construction scaffolding where we can locate the homeless/needy. The moment our cars arrived and opened shop we could see streams of people pouring in. Bob told me that as it happened every year, people knew we were coming and also the areas we cover. (this means the same people can follow us and collect relief at all places, so beware ;-)..)

I was in the car, where we distributed sandwich packs, coffee, soup, shoes and blankets. I felt very happy when I gave things to them and was touched when they blessed me and my family !! :-) (i feel that the most precious thing we can ever get in this world is the heartfelt-thanks and blessings from people whom you may never know or see for the first time !!. we can never buy these things with money nor we can get the same love, peace and satisfaction through other means. This is what makes seva, a very special activity. I dedicate all these to Lord Krishna, who's been so kind to use me as an instrument to help the needy He wanted to..Hare Krishna!!)

In the final spot, I was moved to tears, to see people in huts, made of cardboard, paper cartons, stapled/taped together and sleeping under them on a thin rug spread on the pavement!! [However, I feel that the needy and poor in needy don't even have these !! :-( ]. I could see how much blessed we are indeed to have a family/home to return to and take shelter giving us enough hope for the next day to live.

I spoke to a variety of them - some complained about life, harsh govt, heartless people ; some full of thanks for us to come and see them and talk a few nice words to them as they've never been spoken to for months; some really moved to tears seeing us and asking for more support/some job we can find for them; some making fun of us and rather angry with us when we said we can't give more to the same person as we need to give others-- all kinds. I wondered the play of God, making people react differently for the same situation!!.

Life is the same. We all get born into this material world and die once. Same problems, same Maslow's needs, and same human deficiencies - ego, greed, fear, jealousy, at different ages.. but the same material world!!. I wonder how many human beings have undergone the same thing in this universe - but we still feel we are uniquely made by god by our own material standards!!

Are we really unique? Aren't our life cycle the same? I think I'm contributing uniquely, but am i not doing the same things others have done before albeit in different settings? Where am I in this universe? Am i a spiritual being having a human experience or am I a human being having a spiritual experience? Questions, questions and questions...doubts, doubts and doubts... Gosh!!

But summum bonum, this has enlivened my spirit. To see things in my life again in a larger perspective..perhaps those office problems - promotion, pay etc.. wouldn't bother me more than they really should do, perhaps I've to be more responsible to my family and towards myself, not take things for granted and realising the prime duty of seva wherever i am.

This experience is changing me slowly - for the better ..and I hope to participate in the next run !!


prucool said...

Hey Suresh, Inspiring work.. Kudos to you.. Where ever you go seva continues. You have proved service without boundaries..

Ramya Ram said...

i could see that .. slowly you are indulged nicely in the church's good will activities :) Happy abt it.