Sincere service has never failed me. Time and time again, I am reminded of how rewarding it is to give. My latest encounter with service began a week before urbndervish left for Algeria. Knowing that the time apart would be difficult, I started to think about what I could do to occupy my time during his absence. One thought arose as I was thinking of my favorite health food store. I visit this store whenever I’m in New York and have witnessed it’s growth over the years. So, I thought it would be cool to volunteer in their kitchen.
Thankfully, they gave me a chance to prove myself. 😉 I helped to cook food for their daily lunch bar, stocked and arranged shelves, and served the customers. They may seem like mundane tasks but they were far from mundane for me. They were tasks that I chose to do, because I believe that providing healthy, natural alternatives for people is important work. So, maybe I’m not a trained vegan chef but I’ve found that my purpose can’t be narrowed by degrees or training. There is work to be done, whether or not an income follows suit. In my case, the owners decided to pay me, by their choosing, but it felt good to know that every morning that I went to work, I wasn’t there because someone paid me to be there; I was there because I wanted to be there.
I explained to my Mom that I have the opportunity to witness “moments of liberation” at the health food shop. The look on a person’s face when they realize how sweet fresh, organic carrot juice tastes or they brave their first taste of wheatgrass juice or they start to change their diet or pursue natural remedies to improve their health. To me, these are “moments of liberation” because there is a conscious shift in perspective, followed by action. If this same shift in perspective, followed by sincere actions, can be pursued in one’s diet and beyond, the doors of change are flung open for that person.
For me, changing my diet was a stepping stone for self-exploration, self-discipline, and self-mastery. When a person can begin to choose “the higher” over “the lower”, how can they be enslaved by addiction, negativity, and base desires?
Some of the other benefits I gathered from the health food shop are a bit more tangible. I’ve learned a lot about herbal remedies, superfoods, and supplements. I’ve been able to do more research on raw food diets. The style of cooking done at the shop would be described as “ital”, which is a term that Rastas use to describe whole food, natural cooking. Cooking “ital” has inspired my own cooking and allowed me to connect with authentically Jamaican, vegan cooking. Of course, many patrons of the shop don’t expect to see a Muslim serving ital food or making their Irish Moss (a Jamaican drink), but I found that most people, once they got pass their curiosity, were accepting and open-minded.
This week is my last week at the shop. Though I will miss the shop owners, their family, and some of the customers, I am very glad to be joining urbndervish in Algeria soon, insha’Allah (God willing). Hopefully, my next post will be from the other side of the Atlantic! 😉