As a teacher, I experienced the joys and sometimes the struggles of living with a group of people, six hours a day five days a week. About my third year of teaching we, the faculty and staff, chose to make our school a “closed campus”, that is we decided to eat with the students, giving up our forty-five minute lunch period, and yes, getting that same period of time as our own at the end of the day. Of all the teaching experiences I remember, this one, eating meals, breakfast and lunch with my students topped the list as most rewarding. We became a family. Teaching now wasn’t just a job I came to everyday. It became the family I shared my life with.
The two minute Inside Edition’s August 2016 video of a Mississippi Sergeant David McCoy’s chance meeting and a subsequent shared meal with a homeless man, Dan Williams from Ohio demonstrates the value of sharing a meal. Fr. Thomas Glennon, SSC has the following quote on his business card: “A life unlike your own can be your teacher”. So, like my sharing above, it’s not clear here who is the teacher and who the student, but no doubt all came out winners, me, my students, the sergeant and the homeless man.
Today, I religiously join a group of seniors for lunch sponsored by the Lakeview Prebysterian Church in collaboration with the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services—Senior Services. In truth, the people I’ve met there have become my family. I can’t imagine what retirement would be like without those lunches. The trip to and from lunch also connects me to people many of whose lives are unlike my own, and truly they are my teachers today.
Dan O’Donnell, a layman has covenanted with the Chicago Community. In addition to the standard covenant, Dan promises to work at connecting all partners known and unknown, to a conscious following the the way of Jesus, the way of the cross which Dan believes transforms all failure, democratizing the human journey