c o u n t e r  s e r v i c e

Little Brown Bag Lunch

Little brown bag lunch

devonn francis 

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Little one, this letter is for you.

It is 6 a.m. and I’m watching you at the tail end of last night’s rest. Very soon you will sit up with outstretched arms to meet me in this new day and it's got me imagining hunger pangs before they even happen. I know how you like your porridge in the morning. It makes your eyes come alight and the raisins have a sugary sweetness that softens the little palate they land on, allowing room for your voice to come out from its hiding place. You release the sweetest “Thank you, good morning!”

It is the first utterance to surface from the depths of your insatiable belly.

We live in a shoebox of a place. It may not look like much but I have done my best to fix it up with all the finest odds and ends that I could pull together from the four corners of the world. You have your grandfather's eyes and his gut too. You are always looking for things that you may have missed and you never skip dessert. He was a sailor and he wanted you to know that you are free to roam as far as you please so long as you do so with your head held high. I am training you young. When we walk down the halls of our building complex we greet each and every neighbor with a clear “Hello, how are you?” and make space for those we walk down the road with. You are a part of this community, not a bystander.

Little one, I am making you a little brown bag lunch. I am wrapping fixin’s in cling film sure enough to wed the deli cuts and bread as one. It may not look like much but I promise I poured my whole self into this just as any other meal I have prepared for you before. At the early morning dinner table or when the sun has done its work for the day and it is time for supper, there I am to feed you. However, with this little brown bagged lunch I cannot be with you when you go. I am preparing it and I am preparing you ahead of time.

You have been waiting to go off into the world with great anticipation. I have been waiting with admitted anxiety. One day you will understand what it means to love someone outside of yourself and see them as a complete extension of yourself as well. You will know them like the back of your hand and all the while be astonished at how much they continue to change right in front of you. I often wonder how will this world receive you?

Will it know that you are allergic to strawberries and tomatoes and that you must carry your inhaler at all times? Will it understand your selective hearing and that when you have your head down or when your eyes thumb over every surface of the room it is not because of insolence or frailty, it is because you came into this world curious and eager to reconsider the way you have come to know it. As folks get older they forgo learning for the sake of comfort because we exist in a world that builds towers and moats around facts out of fear. Your presence reminds me that It's okay to be scared at times so long as you commit to walking right through it. You take down all those walls when all that you come across is locked doors. Survival alone—just for the sake of doing so—is not enough. No, you must thrive in a world such as this.  

And your dreaming. Your dreams keep me awake at night. In still air you can feel your own thoughts, worries, and desires just above your head as they anxiously move about. You have my worrying spirit. Let me tell you, some of those worries do not change even when you get to be as old as I am. I find myself asking not only more questions but expecting more from my questioning. Will our weaknesses prevail over us or do we have what it takes to stomach the hard days yet to come? What does a hunger for something beyond our own capability to see truly look like? The deception lies in the fact that we, too, the ones who question, are to be held culpable. I am writing to you today to shed light on my own experiences with the hope that they do not have to become yours as well.

It is not just that brown bagged lunch that I'm asking you to carry, it's the hope that in your lifetime you will commit to building our community back up to where it belongs—a place where you and your peers can feel needed and safe and shine as brilliantly as you were created to do.