Sunday, July 24, 2011

Move along, I gotta get to church...

"Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector." ~Luke 18.10
" The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ~Gal. 5.14

Let's take a trip.

Don't worry, it won't take very long to arrive at our destination as it's only across town.  On second thought - maybe it's actually a universe away from where you live...

  The insolent clanging of the wind-up alarm clock in the darkened room stirs all 3 figures lying on the mattress placed in the middle of the floor.  Tonya, a single mother of 2 small children, struggles to get up without waking either one of the angels still breathing heavily on either side of her.  5.30 comes early after working a double shift at her first job down at the bar yesterday, but Saturday night is their busiest night and as such brings the biggest tips.  
  But today is Sunday! Tonya knows that once she finishes up her shift at her 2nd job at the local buffet at around 4 this afternoon, she'll get to spend the evening with her two babies and that makes it a bit easier to haul her stiff joints into the bathroom to wash up and get ready for work. 
  10 minutes later, she rouses the little ones and brings them each a small bowl of dry cereal and a glass of water (no electricity means no milk - but they don't complain - they are glad to get breakfast today).
Once they've eaten, Tonya gathers them up and goes downstairs to the sitters apt. to drop them off for the day.  After 10 minutes of knocking with no response, she's at a loss. She can't miss work, they'll be on the street if she's late with the rent again.  Looks like they'll be joining her at work again today, they know to be quiet and except for Sophia's cough they usually are.
  The morning is fairly slow, not much in the way of tips - but at least she can tend to the children from time to time and the other waitresses see that they get a cookie here and some juice there.  The boss says this is the last time they can come to work with her - it's nothing personal he says, but the owner has been showing up lately and he can't risk it.
  Finally lunch time and the weekly church crowd! Now maybe she can make some decent money...
The workload doubles, then triples as both the number of customers and their demands grow exponentially.  She's going as hard as she can, but it's never fast enough to suit the "suits".  It's "this tea's not sweet enough" and "we've been waiting for 10 minutes" and "honey, we need some more bread". They laugh, eat, fuss at the kids for getting food on their new church clothes, make a mess...

....and leave a dollar.

Table after table, hour after hour - they come and go.
Same story.
No one bothers to ask her if she's ok.
No one even thinks she may need something or someone to listen for a few minutes.

After all, they've got to get back to church tonight.

Dramatic? yes.  Poorly written? yes.  Far-fetched? not in the least.

I'm not casting judgement, God knows I can be self-centered, not seeing the needs of the less-fortunate - but that's no excuse to continue for me or anyone else. 

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." ~Luke 12.48

Time to open our eyes and see the hurt.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enough already...

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. --Mark Twain

What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives? ~Mark 8.36
 Recently, one of my co-workers told me of trading his paid off truck in on one that he was going to be making 6 years worth of payments on.  I noticed two things: 

1. I wasn't jealous (really)
2. I felt sorry for him

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate new cars as much as the next guy and would love to have something with nicer than what I have sometimes - but it's a lot easier to deal with when I ask myself this question: "Once the "new" has worn off, will I still be paying for this?"


I've been a slave to it in the past. The excitement of feeding the demon with new "stuff" - things that I could brag about and show off to all my "friends" (who were never as taken with my recent acquisition or me as I thought they should be).  

Stuff, Toys, Things, Stuff...

Never enough.  Never as thrilling as the purchase itself or the hours spent online researching - justifying myself as a "smart shopper".  Never satisfied, always convincing myself that there's always room for more...

I'm sure my pontification about all my toys wore some to the bone - but they never uttered it.  

It's nice to grow up a bit and find contentment in my family and things that cant be seen yet are as tangible as a brick wall - peace, love and a decent night's rest.

I'm thankful for what I have and am becoming thankful for the blessing of not having most of what I used to think I wanted.

Time to be FREE.