28 March 2009

Checklist for Lent ~ Question Five

What is your relationship with the poor, the sick, the suffering? I define "relationship" as the condition or fact of being related; connection or association. And when I see and read the word "the" in front of poor, sick, suffering, I intuitively sense an association of "class", as in a class of people. This is intimidating because relative to a "class" of people I know I fall short. So for me there are immediate roadblocks to a response to this question.
And yet, all of us know a person, an individual, a man or a woman, who is poor, who is sick, or who is suffering, or who is simultaneously any combination of the two or the three conditions. Perhaps this fifth Lenten question is more easily answered with a particular person(s) in mind.
I used to work in a church as a secretary. One of the scariest and best parts of the work was meeting and speaking with persons who came to the church seeking doorstep assistance. These folks were desperate, often having been turned away multiple times from other churches, seeking an immediate response to an immediate problem,that would serve as a cup of water in a desert of a problem. Alas, in that time of economic abundance during my employment, there was a steady stream of folks seeking help. I liked to believe, and I hope, that I listened to each person and respond in a way that met their need. I was often heartbroken . . . I was often saddened not to be able to wave my magic wand to cure . . . and I was often overwhelmed with the reality of impoverishment, illness, or suffering these folks were coping with. This was, and still is, in contrast to the abundance in my life. I sense that it would be in contrast to the abundance in most of our lives who may read this blog. I miss being in relationship and association with the mendicants who were a part of my secretarial work. I was called to serve as their advocate.
Yet none of us have to be with the desperate mendicants to be in relationship with a man or a woman who is poor, sick, or suffering. What do I do? I serve as a Stephen Minister. I attend and financially support a church whose mission is to feed and tend God's sheep. I work to meet each person as my equal. I work to raise funds for agencies that serve those who are without resources. I write about the meaning of abundance and the meaning of poverty in the hope that one person may stumble on to my writing and be sparked to learn more.

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