“You’re struck,” says Michael Perry (one of my new favorite authors) in his book Truck, “by the very privilege of it – to gather together and feast in peace.” He was talking about a community get-together and meal at the local firehall, where he volunteers as a firefighter. In my reader’s eye, I could see him standing at the back of the hall, watching everyone eat and talk and share ……… and shaking his head in gratitude at the gift of it.
Well, this past weekend, I, too, was struck by a similar privilege. One of our community members has been dealing with an undetermined neurological disorder for the past several years. It’s left him with vision, walking, and coordination difficulties – and, at least for now, rendering him unable to work at his job as a carpenter and cabinetmaker.
So, with his and his family’s permission, community members got together and pulled together a fundraiser. Now, Joliet, MT, is a small community of about 500+ souls, but even so, over 100 items were donated for a silent and live auction. Over 30 home-baked pies were brought for sale and auctioning off, and a local bluegrass band donated their time and talents for entertainment. A wonderful lasagna dinner was prepared, and everyone pitched in – with setting up, cooking, cleaning up – with whatever was needed.
I loved the fact that this was a family affair, and children of all ages attended and the older ones helped out.
Some of the kids even assisted with the auction items. Rifles are a big deal in Montana, and this youngster looks pretty happy to be of service.
The hallway was filled to the brim with wonderful silent auction gifts:
At the end of the evening, I sat at the “check-out” table as people paid for the items they’d purchased in either the silent or live auction. Sometimes their bill would be $50 or $60 dollars, and they’d give me a check for several hundred. Sometimes they’d purchased some of the ranch items – cattle feed, for instance – with instructions that it be donated to the family.
When everything was cleaned up and we were locking up, the family came back to thank the organizers for putting together this event – which raised over fifteen thousand dollars – and the organizer’s response was “Thank you for letting us do this.” And I think I knew what she was saying – it was an honor and a privilege for all of us to be a part of coming together as a community like this. Doing so raised us all up. And, indeed, I was struck by the very privilege of it.