At Pico Union Project’s Faithsgiving, hundreds of Angelenos stood in line waiting to fill baskets with turkey, vegetables and all the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. If you stopped to think about the hunger and amount of need, one night feel paralyzed by sadness. But Craig Taubman and PUP wouldn’t allow anyone to stand still. Music blaring from the stage, dancing, singing, children decorating cookies and cards, playing in bounce houses, everyone having the time of their lives. The theme was clearly: dignity. It is clear that hard times exist on the shoulders of many dwelling around us. But Craig’s message was clear: offer help with respect, honor, and love.
My daughter, Annie volunteered in the face painting area. One sweet girl asked my daughter to paint a bat on her hand. A vampire inspired bat. The girl laughed and said how much she loved pumpkins, bats, anything haunted. Annie looked at me with puzzled eyes and whispered, “I’ll try.”
Well…she tried, then I tried, and she tried again. The bat looked like a blob of black paint. Basically, two triangles smudged together. We all laughed, and the little girl smiled, “I’ll roll with it. Who am I to judge? Thanks for the bat!”
The theme of Thanksgiving and a wise lesson we take with us during the days after: who are we to judge? I looked at the hundreds of faces in Pico Union and realized that I was staring at hundreds of unknown stories, pasts and futures. Memories unshared and memories yet to be experienced.
No room for judgment. Room only for acceptance, honor, gathering and embracing.
Why do we assume our life’s goals take precedence over another of God’s creatures? When did God tell us that we deserve better than the person standing behind us or the man sleeping on the streets?
Mishlei reminds us to ask ourselves, “Who can say I have cleansed my heart, I am purged of my sin?” Meaning, no one can look in the mirror and claim perfection. We all have misgivings. We all make mistakes. No one fully knows each other’s stories.
Why waste our moments in this world judging someone else’s existence or life decisions? Think of all the seconds spent on judging another’s soul.
Less judgment. More gratitude in having the ability to wake up another morning and embrace God’s creation.
Shabbat Shalom and many, many thanks for all of you