I am always interested in hearing from people as the get to know the Well. I love hearing their perspective as they come into the community with fresh eyes. I also love hearing about what it is that makes them stay. We all have stories like this that illustrate what it is we find here. The Well has been a place for each and every one of us to find friendship and healing. Even if we came to give we find that we receive so much more.
David has been getting more involved and giving himself more and more to the work of loving our neighbors in need. Recently I asked him if he would write a bit of his own story and experience with the Well. He said he would be happy to and I am really excited to share his reflection with you here.
From our brother David:
In late October of 2015 I went on a four-day silent retreat at the Franciscan Center in Tampa with 40 others: no speech, no TV, no radio, no books, no magazines, no cell phones, no nothing but “me.” And it was “me” I found to be the problem, and also the answer.
But let’s backtrack a little. I had first encountered The Well and The Eden Project at the now-defunct USF Farmer’s Market about a year and a half before, and was inspired by their engaged approach to alleviating suffering. After that, I proposed to the Temple Terrace Community Garden that we set aside gardening space for donation to The Well, which was approved by the Planning Committee. And so we began to donate greens and other produce, and I would drop them off every Saturday or so, say hi to the then unknown crew, smile, say bye, and then leave. At that time, that was the extent of involvement I wanted with “them”, with “the poor,” with “the homeless.” I felt I had done my part. “Hey, I gave them food, isn’t that enough?’
Now back to the silent retreat. It was the last day. I had gone through some powerful transformations, and had had some very clear insights into compassion. The night before my mind raced with what was I going to say, the first time speaking, in the last hour of the retreat? And then when my time came to speak, it was all clear to me: I had had a huge aversion to poverty, to homelessness, to despair, and to suffering, and even compassion. Everything changed in that moment. The prepared speech dissolved, and I finally spoke with honesty: These folks need help, and the folks who are helping them need help, and I can help them. And from that day, I vowed to help as much as I could.
But this has been mostly about me. My inspiration comes from others. Despite all of the aggression, sadness, despair, and pain that our guests experience, and we as well, as we take on all of that in our selfless service, I see real and true fortitude in the volunteers, and I ask: How do you do this every day? Day after day? And the answer from them, and now me, is we do what needs to be done: If coffee needs to be made, we do it. If the coffee needs creamer, we try to find some, if someone wants buttermilk dressing on a pork chop, we try to find some, and if at the end of the day we go home with an insight into compassion, or the feeling of I am totally wiped out, or to just cry, that’s okay, because in the end, it all goes back to the central truth: Anything you have done for the people here, you have done for me.
Come join David and the rest of the team as we find our own needs being met while working to meet the needs of others. Come have a seat at the table with us.