Someone recently forwarded me a video of a man named Narayanan Krishnan, a well regarded and talented chef. Krishnan returned home for a visit one day and saw a man so destitute that he was eating his own waste for food. It was a moment that changed Krishnan's life. He left a well paying job as an executive chef to return to his home in Madurai, India. He began feeding the poor, mentally ill, and destitute. Krishnan is now the founder of the Akshaya Trust, which to date has served over 1.2 million meals. For more information see the following CNN article.
It would be enough if the Akshaya Trust was just about feeding people. It would be enough if Krishnan was just a kind man, but there is much more to this story. His work is also about transforming social class. A member of the Brahmin, Krishnan was raised with the belief that his class of people should not look at or even touch the destitute-- let alone feed and bathe them. His organization calls us all to a higher recognition of what it means to be human, and what is possible if we call our hope into action.
There's a lot of talk about December being the season of hope. Hope takes on the image of a Christmas miracle with bells ringing and presents appearing underneath trees. The wonder-filled faces of children become the images stamped on each commercial, carol and shopping mall.
And maybe, that classic image of the child who believes isn't so off the mark from the spirit of Christmas. Remember when you believed in something? Really, believed in an idealistic way that you might make the world a better place? We tend to lose our inner child as we get older. Life is complicated and overwhelming. We forget that we don't have to settle for the world as it is. Krishnan reminds us that a little hope, a little belief, can change lives. That kind of hope goes to the heart of the nativity-- a story that is still changing lives.