Ignorance is NOT bliss

Ya know what, life was easier when I chose to stick my head in the sand and pretended that all the world was made of chocolate streams and all people are good and kind and loving.  In utopia, that may be true. Sometimes life hands you a moment to show you who you are and what you have or have not become…if we are lucky, we rise to the occasion-sometimes we choose-to remain buried.  Today was one such day.

I awoke in a tense mood after having put in a full day of work previously.  Both my boys ended up sleeping in my room, one on my bed, the other on the floor–the weather turned hot and putrid and I believe the my body is part TIN MAN and is in desperate need of oiling–especially on my neck.  In short, I was in a snarky mood to begin.  As rounded the interstate, traveling to my work office I encountered a woman standing by the road with a “NEED HElP” sign.  There she stood in her tie=dyed tank, big ole shades, NIKE swishies, flip flops…and wait for it….Hot pink Pedicured toes.  NICE.

I felt myself angered for the first time.  I pass many of the signs, people stranded on the roadside and I always wonder if I should stop.  Sometimes I don’t because I have my children in the car and I have to think of their safety–sometimes I am alone and I have to consider my safety…when I am in the position, I try to pause, show them my phone, and inquire if they need help. This one made me angry.  I look down at my own toes and see polish that is over a month old and know that it was a gift to me from someone as I embarked on a new adventure in my life.  I do not have the finances to keep up a manicure or a pedicure, so I understand how much of a treat and a gift like that is for me.  Yet, there was this woman asking for my help…NO!

In an interesting movement of opposites another situation presented itself.  As the middle of my town was riddled with anger and confusion and tragedy….a middle aged woman and her 2 children ambled into place we house our office.   Asking for gas money and some sandwiches, we heard her story.  We know her name and her kids’ name–a young lady about 13-14  not in school, flanked by her older brother–16, almost 17 with Asperger’s Syndrome and Bi Polar Disorder.  My heart broke in 2 as I watched some of the same mannerisms of my son…heard him talk about drinking the blood of a raw d to shock someone.  I saw him not able to listen to his mother–i saw her pain, heard the anguish in her voice as she recounted losing her husband of 13 years in April to a massive heart attack ( ps, i have been married 13 years)  I picked up on the frustration on her daughter’s demeanor…the anger, the just under the surface rage.  I worry about her.  I worry about her future, I worry about the lack of education and the chances she may have.

Into a white pick-up with ply wood sides so they have walls while they sleep, they piled amidst what appears all their worldly belongings–including 4 terrier dogs.  From South Carolina to Montana they plan to travel in hopes that she might find a job and someone who will help watch her 2 kids while she works.  She knows that her oldest son cannot be left on his own, I wonder about who he will become.

I had to climb into a car and motor off to a meeting….i watched them leave and i choked back a sob as I entertained where they will sleep tonight.  This was the face of poverty and a complete lack of hope and it left me with no choice….but to SEE.  These were the least, the lost, and the lonely and marginalized.  I wondered about what our Presidential candidates would do in that moment, without the microphones and campaign trails and the throngs of people to entertain.  Would they extend a sandwich, listen to the heartache, would they be impacted by the sight of a truck driving down the road.  Had I not been working in community development, would lI respond in the same manner.  If I did not have an MDIV—-would I do the same?  Would I do the same tomorrow?

My husband asked if I could compartmentalize it, not let it affect me–to do what I can and then let it go.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  In this moment, the experience is about 5 hours old…and yet, I wonder.

SHALOM

cahl.

 

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