February 11, 2017 – Hero or Nero?


“Our soul is sometimes a king, and sometimes a tyrant. A king, by attending to what is honorable, protects the good health of the body in its care, and gives it no base or sordid command. But an uncontrolled, desire-fueled, over-indulged soul is turned from a king into that most feared and detested thing – a tyrant.” – Seneca, Moral Letters, 114.24

My physical body continues to demand more than my┬ámind is capable of delivering. Today was the 5th Annual City Wide Citrus Harvest in Jacksonville, FL. This even consists of the Society of St. Andrew and Feeding Northeast Florida visiting homes throughout the city in an effort to salvage citrus that would otherwise go unpicked. I was a site coordinator for the 4th time (we have a total of five sites) in the five years of the event’s existence. My bout with bronchitis, showing progress towards victory but still far from over, saw me in a condition that left me disappointed in how I managed the volunteers. Six homes went untouched. But thanks to my wife, and the basic goodness of those who volunteered, we still managed to glean an estimated 26,000 lbs of citrus. The actual figure will be released in the coming weeks.

What does this have to do with Seneca’s quote about the difference between a king and a tyrant?

I needed to be a site by 7:15 am to begin setting up my table, chairs, forms to be filled out, tools for picking and the necessary act of greeting volunteers. I was operating on maybe 3 hours of sleep. I was coughing. My body was aching. I haven’t had an appetite in days so my blood sugar was far too low for the activity required over the next 4 hours.

There were around 100 people looking up at me when, at 8:15 am, I began to explain what this effort entails. That what we pick will feed people across seven counties. That every year the volunteer count goes up, the weight in citrus picked goes up and we inevitably pick up more houses for next year’s event. There are families, church groups, business and single individuals who participate, and it is my job to take all the data supplied to me and create temporary communities of people. These communities will drive to homes and pick fruit. At my site we had 54 homes to visit before the end of the day, designated as noon.

This morning I had to look beyond my own malaise and represent the charitable organizations who entrusted me to be their spokesperson. The volunteers didn’t want to see some guy complaining about not feeling well. Telling them that he’s sorry it wasn’t be run better, but he’s doing the best he can. I needed their help. I needed to be a good leader. This wasn’t about me, or how I felt.

Hero or Nero are extremes. We need simply be good for the sake of things other than ourselves. Be a thoughtful friend, co-worker, spouse, student, consumer or neighbor. Are we edifying our community? Is our focus on justice and fairness, or are we simply looking to get what we want? Are we demanding things from others that, if thrust upon us, we’d recoil?

We should seek the best from ourselves, and others. We should work to be the leader we look for in others.

Gleaning – All the Beans!!!


Our first bucket of beans

Gleaning is back with a vengance! Well, for me it is. Unfortunately the opportunities have recently been solely weekday, so when Sandi sent the email asking us to be at the ready for this past Saturday my wife and I blocked out the time. The morning was spent at the KYV farm off of 16A which is near World Golf Village. It was a beautifully crisp Saturday and the first vegetable glean. Our target crop was green beans and while a bit less demanding than picking citrus there was considerable effort needed to maneuver through the bushes so that we did not destroy the entire plan.

Adding to the joy of working the land again was a fact I would learn latter: this land is owned by a friend’s brother! Nice to be part of that circle. Our responsibility was a delivery to Waste Not Want Not and our yield for them was 53 pounds. I have no idea whether that is good or bad harvest but it sure looked like a lot of beans! Here is the email from Sandi letting us know how successful the day was as well as what opportunities are upcoming.

Good morning gleaners! Last Saturday, 14 volunteers enjoyed a breezy morning in the bean field, picking 300 lbs. of tender, delicious green beans. We’re returning to the farm this Wednesday morning at 8:30 to see if we can harvest another few hundred pounds before the plants are pulled and the field put to rest for the summer. It would be great if you could join us for a few hours to see if we can’t “rescue” these beans for the agencies we serve.

I also have the following dates set for gleaning: Saturday, 5/19 and Wednesday, 5/23, potatoes in Hastings; and Saturday, 5/26, cabbage in Wellborn (near Lake City/White Springs).

PLEASE respond to this e-mail if you are available for any of these dates, and I will send directions and details.

Sandi

The cabbage gleaning is a welcomed opportunity because it means coleslaw! Also, it is near an area to camp and kayak should anyone want to make a day of it. As always, the vehicle has open seats and I would love to spend the day with anyone who can make the time.

Gleaning: Bring on the Vegetables


I could kick myself really, really hard. Some great notes and pictures sit waiting to reach their full potential while I manage get distracted by irrelevant items. In fairness there are responsibilities that have assumed the minutes of my waking existence so the hair shirt will not be worn for an extended duration. Passing through that garden of jovial self-loathing let us move to your not-so-distant future gleaning dates. Those which I can attend will be marked so please feel free to mark that time on your calendar if the “spirit moves you”.

BIG REMINDER! KEEP APRIL 21st OPEN FOR THE FIRST OFFICIAL CHANGE-CAN LIVING ROOM CONCERT WITH C. J. FLUHARTY! PROCEEDS WILL GO TO THE SOCIETY OF ST ANDREW!

We have a great many opportunities to harvest citrus and broccoli this month so come out, lend us a hand and enjoy some great company, fresh air & sunshine, fresh fruit and veggies! Oh, and feed a lot of folks nutritious and delicious food while salvaging what would otherwise be wasted–it’s a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN opportunity!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14 – 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
We will be gleaning citrus fruit in south Mandarin/Julington Creek/Fruit Cove area at 3-4 homes.

SATURDAY, MARCH 17 – 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. THE FIRST VEGETABLE GLEAN! LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS!
We’ll be back in Hastings harvesting broccoli. You’ve heard me talk about how much we enjoy picking broccoli, now come see what all the fuss is about!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21 – 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
While there’s still broccoli to be had, we’re coming back for more! We’re out to beat our first-of-the-year gleaning total of 7,400 lbs. that 120 people picked on 2/29. Come help us break our own record!

If you can make it out to one or more of these gleanings, please contact me. Thanks for your support of the Society of St. Andrew Gleaning Network!