Saturday, January 23, 2010
Giving Thanks.....And Giving.
Sometimes you don't have to look far to find opportunities to give, and to give thanks. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us of this.
With Haiti earthquake relief efforts underway, money and prayers are flowing toward the devastated homeland of so many wonderful people. But, too often, it is just not enough. Yesterday, on CNN I saw a Haitian woman speak of the loss of her 5-year-old and 2-year-old. "There was no burial," she said. "I just threw them away."
I just threw them away.
I began to cry when I heard her speak. I could not understand her language, but I could understand her pain. I cannot imagine such suffering.
Or, maybe I can, as I get a glimpse of it, closer to home.
Last night, I walked up Walnut Street and saw a homeless man sitting outside a theatre. His sign said, "I am Mike and this is my dog Sparks. We are homeless. Please help us." He sat in the dirt next to the parking lot, cradling his sad-looking dog in a blanket on his lap. A tattered bag of dog food sat beside him. Many passersby placed money in Mike's grimy paper cup before they went to see their show.
I wondered about Mike. How did he come to this point in his life, begging outside a theatre on a January Friday? Where was his family? Was Sparks his only friend? The questions were unending. The answers never came. I didn't ask.
Further along the street, a woman pushed a cart full of all her worldly possessions. She settled on a grate near a parking garage, desperate for the heat that rose up around her as if embracing her weary body. No one said a word to her as they walked by. No one helped or even offered to help. It was as if she were invisible.
My brother works for the Department of Youth and Family Services. He sees neglect, poverty, ignorance and evil on a daily basis. Much of it is forgotten once the paperwork is processed. The brain cannot take the pain of remembering the details every day. Children are removed from homes. Parents are sent to prison, to rehab, to anger management. Children die. It's just part of a broken system.
And then there are the lucky ones. Those of us who have not lost children, who are not begging, who have a home and a warm, clean bed in which to rest and who have not experienced the pain of a broken system that is as powerless as the children it seeks to protect.
It shouldn't take an earthquake to help people in need. Little earthquakes are happening every day, all around us. If we pay attention, we can feel the aftershocks. If we look beyond ourselves, we can see the need.
Today, I make a pledge to give thanks, but more importantly, to give more of myself.