Treasure Valley Prays

Lunch Buckets

boy hugging girl

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

When I first started working in the public schools, I drove myself crazy collecting discarded jackets and lunch kits when I had playground duty after school. I waved coats at kids hurrying by to meet buses or parents, hoping that someone would recognize their lost property. They rarely did.

After the buses had left and the playground was clear, I carried my load of jackets and lunch kits indoors to leave in the lost and found area. I dumped perishable food out of the lunch kits, and folded or hung up the jackets.

I always felt bad when I opened a lunch kit and saw that the food had hardly been touched. Sometimes I found a little love note from a mother. I hoped that her child had read it.

When I hung up one of the nicer jackets I hoped its owner would find it. If the weather was cold, I would worry a little about a cold walk or bus ride home.

I eventually learned that I could consider this wasted effort. If I left a jacket on the field, there was a better chance that its owner would remember throwing it down and come back for it. The lunch kits were a different matter. No point in leaving a half-eaten sandwich to grow mold. I took the kits indoors and dumped the leftovers, but I worried less about the owner. Maybe the kid would take better care of their stuff if they had to put up with the inconvenience of losing it.

In my travels as a substitute teacher, I met a kindly Christian woman from West Virginia who introduced me to the term “lunch bucket,” which must have been a holdover from the days when most people used whatever came to hand to pack a lunch for work or school.

This woman and I occasionally worked together in a special education class. Of course, none of the kids we supervised ever had their lunch in a real bucket. They carried their lunches in soft-sided kits featuring the latest fads in children’s entertainment. To me, a bucket seemed more romantic. It made me think of homesteader children walking to school across the prairie, each one holding the handle of a tin bucket.

My lunch bucket buddy shared my concern about kids forgetting their things. She diligently reminded children to bring in their “lunch buckets” at the end of lunch recess. We colluded in giving the children more mothering than school is supposed to offer. We knew the kids were expected to take responsibility for their things, but we chased after them anyway with forgotten lunch kits and I’ve never regretted it. I don’t think it hurt the kids to get some extra attention. I’d rather err on the side of offering too much kindness than too little.

We never know when our words and actions may help someone. So often, we downplay the small ways we support others. We don’t see that these small actions open our hearts and bring us nearer to God.

Let us pray... (and maybe sing)

New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

The trivial round, the common task
Will furnish all we ought to ask
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
Fit us for perfect rest above;
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray.

Text from “New Every Morning is the Love,” a hymn by John Keble (1798-1866).

Linda Worden

Linda Worden

Member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church,
Boise, ID

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