Monday, October 11, 2010

Thankful With a Twist

Last week I went through a lot of our stuff to take to Goodwill. Whenever I pack up the back of the car with stuff to give away, I feel like a little bit of weight is lifted off of me. I realize every time that I drop off our unused and unwanted stuff that things are just that, things. I often give away things that we don't use or wear anymore, but I asked myself, what if I gave away things that I really liked, my favorite even. Would I miss those things or would I go on living as I had before? I would like to think that I could be happy without my favorite things.

Bono sings these lyrics, "Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die." He is talking to us, with much stuff. We live in riches, we have more than enough food, we are warm and sheltered from the elements, we have access to safe drinking water, we have more than one of something (most things), so many that we have favorites. He is challenging us to look at our stuff and how it has ultimately blinded our eyes to the rest of the world that is dying. These people are not dying because there is a lack of stuff in the world but because there is an inequality in how resources like food and water have been shared. I know that there are lots of reasons for this inequality and many of you reading will think about corruption in governments, and how sometimes poverty is a result of poor choices. These reasons, to me, do not change the fact that people are poor and that they are dying. These reasons also do not negate the need for people to help change both the circumstances and the results of poverty.

I read a story recently about Mother Theresa that I would like to share with you. It's  from a book called 'Irrisistible Revolution' by Shane Claiborne. Claiborne spent a summer in Calcutta with Mother Theresa and this is what he writes, "Mother Theresa was one of those people who sacrificed great privilege because she encountered such great need. People often ask me what Mother Theresa was like. Sometimes it's like they wonder if she glowed in the dark or had a halo. She is short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little bit ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget - her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn't going to ask, of course. "Hey Mother, what's wrong with your feet?" One day a sister said to us, "Have you noticed her feet?" We nodded, curious. She said, "Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet." Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet."

This story impacted me in two ways. First, that my castoffs, the things that I give away out of my abundance can end up deforming some one's feet. Second, that Mother Theresa didn't want someone else to suffer so she suffered in their place, out of love. I ask myself again why I give "the crumbs from my table", to quote Bono again, when the poor deserve dignity, respect and the best of everything, just like I do. The poor don't need to become like us (we don't need to be like us either, if you really thing about it), but they do need to be taken care of, known, suffered with, and fought for.

I don't know what you will do with these thoughts today on Thanksgiving, but my hope is that you will give thanks and also be inspired to give out of your abundance and blessing, your very best, not the crumbs or the castoffs. Dream about what you can do to take care of, know, suffer with, and fight for the poor. They are all around us.

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