I never learned her name. But as I moved to help her, the thought went through my head: Thirty years ago, that might have been me.

If I had to guess, I’d say she was in her mid-thirties. She wore a purple sweatshirt and yoga pants. Soccer mom, I thought, then put the idea out of my mind. I don’t like to pigeonhole people.

“Do you have any fruit?” she asked. She gave me a hesitant, yet hopeful smile “My son really loves to eat fruit.”

I told her I’d see what I could do, and went into the back storeroom. There, on a low shelf, as if a fairy godmother had heard and granted the woman’s wish, sat the kind of plastic-covered fruit tray you’d see in a supermarket – quadrants of strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe and watermelon, with a small tub of yogurt dressing in the middle. (In fact, a supermarket is where it had come from.)

I brought it out to the woman. “How’s this?” I asked, holding the platter like a butler presenting dinner to the lord of the manor.

Her eyes lit up. “It’s perfect!”

As I handed her the tray, we chatted a bit. She was a single mom who had lost her job three months ago, and besides her special-needs fruit-loving teenage son, her pre-teen daughter wanted to dye her hair blonde like Taylor Swift. I wished her luck and as she left the room, I said a quick prayer for her – and all the people like her who needed to visit the food bank I volunteer at one day a week.

I began working at the food bank last November because I wanted to do something to give back to the community that has served me so well for over thirty years. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. For sure, I do serve people being a medium, connecting folks with their loved ones in spirit. But as I’m slouching into middle age, I wanted to find a way to give my life more meaning.

At a farmer’s market last summer, I talked with representatives from the food bank and as drove I home, everything they had said felt right. So I made an application, and now here I am.

The people who come in for help are all ages. I talk with single moms and dads; people with large families and those who live alone. I hear the stories of older folk who have trouble keeping up with their skyrocketing rent, taxes and/or condo fees. Some drive up to the centre in a Lexus, and a few ride bicycles (and not just in good weather). And they’re not all poor people with just the clothes on their backs.

They are people like you and me, individuals that have hit a rut on the road of life and need a little help getting back on the road.

And I can’t tell you how great it is to feel like I’m serving them when they need help the most. I get home after an often-grueling three-hour shift and feel energized knowing someone’s life is a bit better – even if just for a little while – because I’ve helped them out.

I can’t find the exact quote from Deepak Chopra, but here’s the gist of it: People who feel they are helping others never feel useless. I think of that now, especially when I talk with clients whose feel spiritually low. Volunteer at a food bank, a daycare centre, a retirement facility, a hospice. If your New Year’s resolution was to be kinder, gentler, more loving … there are plenty of places that will help you with that goal..

If you have any questions or comments on this subject or on any other spiritual matter, feel free to write to me. And please visit me again!

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