Healing is Impossible in Loneliness

TNFP's most outstanding volunteers at this year's Volunteer Appreciation Celebration

TNFP's most outstanding volunteers at this year's Volunteer Appreciation Celebration

One of the things I love about The Nashville Food Project is that it’s a place people want to be. And in the true spirit of “project,” our work is active and evolving and involves many people. I am so grateful to you, our volunteers for participating this grand experiment—holding each other accountable on your trucks teams, leading your groups in the gardens, and making creative decisions during regular volunteering in the kitchen. Through all of this, we are learning to share life.

So many times over the last six and a half years, I’ve heard from our volunteers that they get more out of this work than the "people we serve.” And this is where the waters become muddied about The Nashville Food Project – who do we serve? We are for all people. And while we are serving one another, we understand not only more about the other, but more about ourselves as well.

In a commencement address called “Thoughts of a Free Thinker,” Kurt Vonnegut offered these words about community and sharing life:

What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.

Yes. This world is too damn big for people to be lonely. And the undercurrents of pain and heartache we all carry with us disintegrate the relationships on which our entire lives are built. We received a Facebook comment this week, acknowledging The Nashville Food Project as an organization involved in “lifting up the human spirit, one person at a time.” Our hope is that the work we engage in together lifts lives, builds community, transforms pain, and heals the body, mind and spirit of everyone who chooses to be involved.

The Kentucky poet Wendell Berry reminds us in his essay "The Body and the Earth" that “healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness….” Being with you and doing the work of The Nashville Food Project has cured many lonely days over my last six plus years of being involved. And so for you and for this work, I am ever grateful.

Grace and peace,

PS: For those in a listening mood! Our staff enjoyed this interview with john a. powell on On Being with Krista Tippett. Powell is a faculty member at University of California at Berkeley and the author of Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. Powell reminds us in this interview, “The human condition is one about belonging. We simply cannot thrive unless we are in relationship… If you’re isolated, the negative health condition is worse than smoking, obesity, high blood pressure – just being isolated. So we need to be in relationship.” Hope you’ll have a listen!