What guitar player can you name when you hear three notes? I understand that on Sunday night, CBS television will broadcast The 36th Kennedy Center Honors event featuring pop star Billy Joel, Latin-rock legend Carlos Santana, jazz great Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine and opera singer Martina Arroyo. I have a great Christmas back-story about what makes at least one of these luminaries honorable.
A week ago, Santana reunited with an original band member not seen since the late sixties, Marcus Malone, “The magnificent” Marcus Malone. A local TV Reporter Stanley Roberts found Malone rummaging through a pile of trash while living on Oakland city streets. Roberts heard Malone tell him he was part of the original Santana Blues Band.
Santana and Roberts’ gesture towards Malone opened my heart, and made me realize Christmas is more than what I was imagining. There are benefits of helping the less fortunate among us, who may be family members we know, or those we don’t know who live on the streets, mostly forgotten, in the cold, the shadows, using leftovers, perhaps wrongly judged and scorned.
Night on the Streets
Another luminary I know takes care of street people near where I live. His name is JC Orton. One of my sons Alex joined me and we went to JC, so that we could serve a soup dinner to the street people out of his vehicle in Berkeley.
JC is Coordinator at ‘Night on the Streets’ Catholic Worker in Berkeley, feeding and clothing the local chronic and temporarily homeless. He’s been doing it since 1997, works most every day doing activities like gathering donations, preparing and serving breakfasts and soup dinners. Those he serves are at the bottom of society, grateful for a hot cup of chocolate or soup.
Sometimes he gives out blankets, sleeping bags, ponchos, and many other things they can use right away. He’s involved deeply with some of them, over a long period of their lives, helping them with their finances, medications, their families. He answers the phone because they are calls for help; and, he doesn’t fob calls off to a voice mail system. I see him serving them in a way that Jesus wanted us to serve those less fortunate. It’s greatly encouraging to see the attitude, the passion, the goodwill towards those least fortunate.
I am touched about JC’s commitment to this long running mission. His organization has served over one hundred thousand meals since the beginning. The contributions that I make to NOSCW give me a chance to experience firsthand how others who choose to help inspire, and those who need help respond, and I am the one getting humbled, if only for one night at a time. I am grateful in a way that makes me feel a little better about myself during this difficult season between holidays.
Your Go Do
Since it is the holidays and Epiphany happens in another week, then I suggest if you’re able, to find yourself the right opportunity to touch the heart of another, and feel your own heart grow larger. Carlos Santana and JC do it. I did it with my son. It can be through your family, friends or your church group, but it can also be with people you don’t yet know. 60 million Americans do it. Here’s a place with 76,500 opportunities to get connected called VolunteerMatch.org which may have the perfect place for your spiritual journey.
Please share your experiences, and let’s go about making the world a better place, three notes at a time.