It’s been a week since I spoke about The Face of Hunger at Second Harvest Orange County’s “No Lunch” Lunch. It was an incredible experience, and I felt your presence beside me when I spoke. I’ve wanted so much to reach out to each of you personally, to say thanks for your support; but in truth, the experience was so powerful that I needed time to digest it all.
I shared a portion of my own story, as you know, for the very first time in public (save for "Luz," my essay in DEAR BULLY). I talked also about the faces of hunger all around me, now and in my past. Neighbors in need, about whom we’ve all heard whispers down the lane. The faces of hunger—invisible until and unless your eyes grow accustomed to the dark.
Tears fell, not all of them mine. I reached for my water glass, swallowed hard until I regained my composure. The audience (about 350 people or so) waited patiently, leaned forward in their seats as if to encourage me. And when I headed back to my table at the end of my speech, they rose to their feet. I just about burst in tears again, what with all that smiling and clapping.
I don’t remember much that happened after that, save for a few snippets of conversation—some of it more personal than I feel comfortable sharing. But here’s a brief snapshot:
One well-heeled woman cupped my hands in hers, and she peered into my eyes with what seemed to me a mixture of curiosity and pity. “Just keep on doing what you’re doing, honey,” she said.
“This is your Esther Moment,” another woman said. “I know, because I’ve been up on that stage, same as you.”
An elderly person approached me, eyes twinkling. “Your father would be so proud…You’ve got the preacher genes in your blood, just like he did."
People will hear what they will…will see what they choose…will say whatever they want, whenever. It’s not up to me to evaluate their perceptions. I'm still exploring my own truths. But I will say that I was humbled by this experience, and by the outpouring of support. And, yes, I feel some measure of pride for having done what I set out to do. I made a joyful (if sometimes blubbering) noise! And the tears we shared that afternoon? I suspect they were transformed into “showers of blessings” — for Second Harvest, and for the faces of hunger they serve.
What words can I add, of any measurable worth? Only this: I'm deeply grateful. xoxo