When I think about the Siri Singh Sahib and all that he was, all that he gave us, and the vast legacy he created, I go numb in the process of trying to comprehend it. But I take reassurance in those gemlike nuggets of wisdom that give simple and direct guidelines on how to live.
They flowed from him in endless profusion, and each one could inspire a lifetime. Here is one that I have latched onto; it seems to strike a particular chord in my heart and soul:“You have to live with kindness, compassion, and service. These are the three sources of all knowledge, happiness, prosperity and richness. ” ~Siri Singh Sahib ji
Shortly after the Siri Singh Sahib died I looked around and found that so much of what had structured my daily life had crumbled. The ways that I had been participating and making a contribution were simply gone. And so I said to myself, what am I meant to be doing? My prayer to Guru Ram Das was, give me a way to serve, to share, to heal and uplift. The answer came back to me, see what’s right in front of you. That’s where you are to serve.
So I tried to open my eyes and see. I found out that there was an interfaith soup kitchen in Espanola that had been reaching out to our Sikh community and asking for our participation. Through trial and error I found out who was running it and got some details of how we could plug into the program. Then I invited all those from the ashram who were interested to come to my house for dinner and discussion. This went on for about four months, as I continued to cook meals for our core group and we made plans for that big day, the first meal that we would serve at the soup kitchen. We formed ourselves into several teams: grocery shopping, prepping and cooking, serving the meal, and cleanup.
The clients at the soup kitchen did not make it easy for us that first day. They complained bitterly when our meal was not ready on time, and so we got off to a rocky start. But Guru Ram Das prevailed, and in the end the love and consciousness we had put into the food and our serving of it filled them with warmth and joy. The meal ended with big smiles, many expressions of thanks, the clients blessing us and asking when we would be back.
That was five years ago. A small but dedicated group continues to create a Sikh presence at the Espanola interfaith soup kitchen. Each time as the meal approaches, I tend to feel a bit apprehensive about all the details. The perfectionist me wants everything to go right. The negative me thinks of everything that could go wrong. And it can be a long day, from early morning prep to after the meal cleanup. But there’s never a time that I don’t feel totally uplifted, joyous and humbly grateful as I leave the soup kitchen.
I especially love that we are a bridge between Hacienda de Guru Ram Das and the greater Espanola community in whose midst the Guru has placed us. Plagued with poverty, drugs and violence, there is a great need for all that we have to share. But the cultural gap means that they will not come to us, and so we must go to them and share in a way that makes sense to them. Food shared with love crosses all boundaries. The Guru’s langar takes many forms.