Have you heard or read the allegory of the long spoons? The origin of the story is most often attributed to Rabbi Haim of Rhomshishok but the story is told by many cultures and religions across the globe. The story goes that a group of people are seated at a table full of the most decadent or delectable foods. Each person is given a single, very long spoon to eat with at the table. Hell is what happens when each person uses the long spoon to try to feed him or herself. Heaven is what happens when each person uses their long spoon to feed their neighbors.
The story has been written with different foods and different eating implements, spoons, forks, chopsticks. Sometimes the spoon is a regular size but all the people’s arms are splinted and cannot bend. Whether it is a long pair of chopsticks or splinted arms the results are the same.
You may argue the people could simply hold the spoon closer to the scooping part and not at the end of the long handle. You may suggest the people could skip the utensils completely and lean forward and eat from the table with their mouths or their hands only. But that would be missing the point.
I think right now, in this changing world we live in, many of us are waking up to find ourselves at the table with a long spoon. And many of us are feeding our neighbors or being fed by them in turn. Some are not. But many are.
If I were my own best friend I would tell myself the story of the long spoons. Pause and look around my table. Look at my own spoon. Observe the riches laid before me, the bounty. Observe the others at the table, and their spoons. Then, pick up my spoon and feed as many people at the table as I can. Trusting that my neighbors will do the same for me.