My encounter with those living with poverty or exceptionalities through my experience delivering lunches with the Hunger Coalition at Benedictine College struck a chord in me that I did not realize was so out of tune. I did not experience very closely during this time a great connection to persons with exceptionalities, but the reality which confronted me as I stepped into the homes of those whom I encountered filled me with a kind of sickeningly sorrowful sense of helplessness.
To perfectly amplify and clarify what I was feeling, at one of the houses where we stopped there was a box of very young kittens, beautiful and delicately small. I knelt and picked one of them up, petting its fur gently and feeling like I was in heaven they were so beautiful. Never mind that they were dirty, never mind that they looked desperately hungry, they were the most beautiful kittens in the world to me. The lady of the house looked at me and said “if you want em, take em! I can't care for em.” If there was a policy that let me take stray kittens into my dorm, I would have snatched that box up in an instant, but alas, it was with a sigh of dejection that I extracted the kitten from my sweater, where he had latched his claws as if to say “don't leave me!”and walked away.
I felt as though I were leaving part of my heart behind as we drove away, and as I reflected upon the rest of my day, I felt for the persons I met in a similar manner. I felt as though I were giving them something for a day, but who would be there tomorrow? I held that kitten for a minute, but what it needed was more than a minute, it needed a family to love and take care of it. I am not infinitely wealthy and I can not bi-locate, so I can not solve all of the world's problems through my presence and monetary support, but maybe that's the point. All I have to give in my own student poverty are my prayers, my time, and one meal a week. The potency of my prayers I leave in the hands of the Lord, but after witnessing the joy my time gave to Gloria, the excited faces of children who held my dinner in their hands, I could not possibly bring myself to do anything less than giving everything I can possibly give. It's intoxicatingly beautiful, and a much better feeling than walking away, feeling like you've left your heart behind in a cardboard box to starve.
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