I showed up with a friend from my church and from the Graduate Christian Fellowship. When we walked into the gymnasium, we didn’t see anyone we knew—and even if we had known people there, we probably wouldn’t have recognized them because everyone was covered in a hair net. An undergraduate shyly came over to us to greet us and offer us our own hair nets.
Putting on the hair net did the first work of transformation—we went from being strangers to being part of a team, focused on the goal of packing meals. The green-hair-netted people came around and got the teams of our new friends oriented to the tasks at hand. We scooped, weighed, sealed, and packed (always making sure that rice went last!) together for a couple hours. We settled into a rhythm of scooping and weighing, making the second transformation of disparate ingredients into a meal. We marked time by the announcement of how many boxes were packed until we met our goal.
Perhaps I enjoyed the surprise and the “strangeness” of teamwork the most. We came together from different campus groups and churches, some of us not knowing each other. The majority of us will not meet the people who receive these meals. And yet those of us in that gymnasium knew we showed up with a shared purpose—packing meals—and a shared commitment—care of the poor and the stranger in the name of Christ. The experience was a reminder of how Christians are caught in Christ’s net, and, this time, it looked like a hair net.