Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Some people are so lucky."

I recall one occasion when God’s voice came to me from an unexpected source. A few years ago when I visited my family for vacation, my brother Paul took me and my mother to a Broadway show (The Sound of Music). It was about 11 PM as we left the theater but lights blazed, cars honked and people crowded the sidewalks. As we picked our way through the crowd to the parking garage, I noticed an old African-American woman huddled on the sidewalk. She crouched next to a building, warming herself near a steam grate, the patches on her jacket fluttering in the wind. As we went by she said, “Some people are so lucky.” Did she intend those words for me? I don’t know, but those words drove straight into my heart. In a second all sorts of feelings flooded into me. I felt bad for her, guilty that I had eaten a steak dinner that evening, and frustrated about a society that lets people live on the sidewalk. Whenever I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself, those words come back to haunt me, “Some people are so lucky.” She was like a prophet who spoke God’s word to me. Only God knows what kind of hand life had dealt her. But she gave me a gift that night and taught me an important lesson about gratitude.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for that beautiful thought. Sometimes we do take for granted the luxuries in life that we have, then demand more, when there are so many poor people in the U.S. let alone other places who don't even have a roof over their heads, food, clothes, a car, AC, and the list goes on. We have to be grateful always! Thank God!

Lisa said...

I have similar moments of "checking in" when I serve the guests at the soup kitchen. Living in a capitalist society as we do, we have to acknowledge that because some have more others have less. Instead of blaming the poor and working class for being "that way," we have to do what we can from our positions in society to ensure that all have what they need and dignity of the human person permeates all aspects of life.

Thanks for leading us to these realizations.

Anonymous said...

The Bible says that poverty will always be with us. Poor people give us all an opportunity to exercise charity, hope, and faith. There but by the Grace of God go I. The homeless are in our community (not just across the sea). Many homeless people are children. Many homeless people are mentally ill. Many homeless shelters do not take single men only women and children. Many homeless shelters do not take the severely disturbed mentally ill. Many homeless people are alcoholic or drug addicted. All of these realities have been with us forever. The difference today is that we walk on by, or we feel guilty. Guilt is nothing but garbage; it does not good for anyone. If we have it in our power to do something, we are called by Our Lord to act. A smile. A hug. Mother Theresa once stopped in a large western city to give a homeless person a hug. That homeless person had not experienced a human touch in so long he could not remember! We need not do big things, just do little things for the Glory of God and they will be great in the eyes of the recipient (and in God's eyes as well!) In this USA we have so many people who have no one to talk with, no one to touch (a non sexual contact like a handshake or a hug), to share a meal with, to tell a story to (without the listener getting impatient), ...I could go on and on. We have so much to learn from one another.