Matthew 25: 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Saturday John and I welcomed a new family member into our home. A small stray dog rescued by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter. She is a 5-year-old Chihuahua who is also completely blind. For someone she was simply a throw away life, to John, me and my cousin, who brought her up from California, she is a delight; sweet-tempered and loving.
As John and I prepared for her arrival I began to reflect on how privileged I am. How privileged all of us are. We have enough to eat, nice clothes to wear, clean drinking water, and warm homes that shelter us. We are, for the most part, healthy and able to get around without assistance. In general we all have friends who welcome us, even if we do not have family. We have all been well-educated, never experiencing or having very little experience of being prevented from learning, or doing whatever we choose to do.
We walk our streets without fear of being shot by snipers, or being killed by daily shelling or in the crossfire of combatants. We know where our children are and have no fear about sending them to school or leaving them alone. We can shop for anything in the world; shoes, clothes, and food in quantities the rest of the world finds totally amazing. We think nothing of ordering from Amazon a new electronic gadget or, in my case, books of every kind. Do you realize the poorest of us in Snohomish and King Country has more than those that live in Darfur? The poorest in this country would be considered wealthy by many in third world countries.
Right now our government is deciding whether to intervene in Syria and my honest prayer is “please let’s not do this.” But the issue of this intervention is way more complicated than just not wanting to because I am “tired of war” and “I don’t want to open a new front that will suck more of our much needed funds away.” I am not the one being shelled, I am not the one being poisoned, and I am not the one in the cross-hairs. My heart goes out to those caught in a war zone and am frustrated because there is so little I can do to help except send my prayers.
I realize I am embarrassed by my riches. What makes me worth more than those in Syria, or homeless of Nicklesville Tent City, or refugees in Darfur? So my prayers this week have been extremely troubled. How do I make a difference? How do I help the poorest in this country and the rest of the world? How do I follow in the steps of the one I choose to follow? I am afraid, uncertain, confused, and unsure. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of what the heart of my heart calls me to do. My prayers and my small offerings seem inadequate. But that is what I have to offer. There is a line from a poem by John Phillip Newell that I practically like, “Be strong and let your heart take courage.” That is what I am trying to do. I can’t do a lot but my little bit just might be helpful.
Adopting Suzie, one of G-d’s children thrown to the side of the road, is a small thing. And in all that I have been blessed with I have more than enough to live my life. Sharing out of what I have been blessed with only adds to my riches in a new way. Therefore, I vow to give out of all I’ve been blessed with by doing many small things and maybe if we all did small things they would add up to a collective big thing. All we have to do is everyday give a small thing out of our great abundance and maybe, just maybe, we might change the world. For me one of those small things is to never stop praying because it may seem inadequate at the time but calling out to G-D in heartfelt sincerity and surrender is never a waste of my time and leads me to actions that benefit others. Life is full of choices and I choose to be more giving of the blessings I’ve received.
In the short-term none of what I do may change how the homeless are treated, whether injustices are set right, or whether or not we go to war. In the long-term it will be only G-d who will remember how a lost heart was pointed to a better path. My small offering will be just one more strand strengthening the ever-growing fabric of life. I find that to be amazing and astounding and more than enough to keep me going.
Ruth Jewell, ©September 9, 2013