Monday, February 7, 2011

The Stewpot Has Many Chef’s

Friends of the Stewpot, thank you.
The word leverage is used by just about everyone these days. We use the word to describe how we overcome inertia with energy and movement. Leverage is an example of cause and effect, of action and reaction. Leverage is an application of basic laws of nature. But we know leverage is more.
Our bones act as levers blessing us with movement. From classroom to home, from workshop to factory that simple lever works hard. That ancient Greek, Archimedes, claimed thousands of years ago, and the truth of what he said still echoes today: “give me a lever long enough and a place on which to stand and I can move the world.”
Another voice from the ages past, the Prophet Isaiah, answers that challenge and reminds us how to change the world. From the 58th chapter of Isaiah (6-9): “Is not this the fast that I choose; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; and when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.”
I know it’s a tough sell to mention fasting when we recognize the wondrous, God-given gift of food, artfully and lovingly prepared. The prophet uses the word fasting not to lap-band our stomachs but to leverage our hearts, minds and souls to move the world. He tells us to stop doing one thing and start doing something else.
The abiding beauty of the lever and its incredible usefulness lies in its multiplying effect. Place the fulcrum in the right place and the effort you put in will have astounding results.
For 36 years the Stewpot has been blessed with chefs who have used their ladles as levers. What a testament to the multiplying effect of the simple lever first tipped to fill a bowl in October of 1975 that has been multiplied to serve over 4 million meals.
Be they chefs that cook, chefs that serve, chefs that teach, chefs that sort mail, chefs that manage money, teach art, or chefs that mentor our 40 college scholars they are the chefs that help to answer that call. They lead the way, helping us to stop doing what holds down and back and they help us to start doing what helps grow justice and achieve potential. It has been my blessing to “leverage” with the best.
Morton Myerson came to the Stewpot and with leverage skillfully tipped pitcher to glass and filled empty cups with milk and water. Later, perhaps a “Here I am” answer to the prophet, he pictured music as another nurturing way to fill what is empty. Through music, song and dance I saw what the prophet claimed would happen erupt with joyful applause, smile and laughter. When silence was filled with sound it made true what the prophet said: “Your light break forth like the dawn and your healing shall spring up speedily.” Mort, thank you for listening to that inner voice.
Mort has been our Chef of Music but truly our Stewpot Alliance has been of Chefs of Magic. They have now, for three years, taken an idea and with great love, imagination and hard work leveraged that idea into a premier community event that changes lives.
I can attest to and predict there can never be enough chefs for the Stewpot.
Our sincere appreciation to Mort and the Alliance, our esteemed Chefs and you all who give in many ways. But there is a special place in today’s celebration of someone else who answered a call to help heal and build by saying so often in so many ways: “Here I am.”
I can say nothing greater than Gil and Billie Thomas gave us a place on which to stand from which we have, with your help and God’s blessing, changed lives.
Thank you.

Remarks spoken at Soup’s On event – January 25, 2011

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