Yesterday, a group of friends from church and I did a Besom project. The Besom is a charity I work with which matches up people-in-need in the community with people-in-abundance in the community. The Besom gets referrals for all projects through social workers, which means both the projects and the neediness of the recipients are pretty well vetted beforehand: the giving team’s work is guaranteed to be necessary, not just, for example, an optional re-decorating when someone grows tired of their lime green kitchen.
We painted the living room of a family who lives on a council estate (sort of equivalent to the ghetto in the US), changing the walls from a nicotine-stained orange (once white…) to a baby blue they had selected. The family kept us supplied with tea/coffee and “entertained” by showing off their two pet snakes — but watch out everyone, Flake bites!! The snakes, admittedly, were beautiful to touch, so smooth and soft. And hey, now I can say I’ve done it.
I love the Besom. I love what it stands for, I love what it feels like, I love being a part of the management team, making decisions which drive the good work forward. I hope to take the Besom, or something like it, with me wherever we next go. It is so important to step out of my shiny work/personal life bubble, and step into someone else’s world for a second or two. And even, dare I say it, to “make a difference” while I’m there. I’m wary of the phrase, all too cognizant that lofty ambitions often fail, or at best are impermanent. But in a way: so what? Five hours of my time on a weekend brought a bit of light into a desperately dark situation. Permanent life transformation would be better, of course. But for now, in this Sunday evening’s reflection, what we did in that place seems worth it. Worth it enough to do again and again.