June 24, 2013

Moving to the Whole

With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me, and that you have loved them as you have loved me.  John 17:23

Because You Loved Me
by Celine Dion
Listen Here
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
you were my eyes when I couldn't see
you saw that the best there was in me
You lifted me up when I couldn' t reach
you gave me faith cuz you believed
in everything I am because you loved me

 You gave me wings and made me the fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
 I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
you said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
 I had your love I had it all
I' m grateful for each day you gave me
maybe I don't know that much
But I know that this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you

Through a life time of direct experiences, many of us will encounter both the beautiful, the unpleasant and the truly ugly. Some will learn it by travels to other parts of the world; some through missionary activities either at home or abroad. While we often recoil from what we perceive as ugly, the old saying, 'a face only a mother could love,' rings true here. Why only mothers? Don't many of us have the inclination and the capacity to face the ugliness of the world, to dig deep within our selves and see that our reactions, our notions about what we have witnessed are not sprung from true guilt or shame, but from false imagination?

Now confronted with what is real, what is suffering, poverty and absolute destitution, we no longer can take comfort in so called humanitarian initiatives on the Internet or the little bake sale fund raisers around home. Our enlarged horizon calls. Plumbing our own hearts first and foremost, we may discern gratefulness for what we have and become more grateful for what we can share and spare. Carefully questioning our needs and discerning them from our desires, many find previously unharnessed abundance. Some of us are  already engaged in the myriad aspects of humanitarian relief through our churches or place of worship; some through professional experience as social workers or teachers, for example. Don't feel sorry. You cannot help those you merely pity. Engage yourself in the wider world, their world.

Still awareness is only the first step, and discerning our feelings from what we may have imagined is the next. So now we know; we are more aware; must our next step be to jet off to another part of the world? Can we make a real difference in our communities, one step at a time? Can those of us already engaged in the helping professions deepen our commitments to fairness, equality and social justice? Each must consider the matter for themselves.

In my own community of Champaign-Urbana for example, there are a great many needs. While those here may not be destitute to the degree of those encountered on the streets of Calcutta, India or those within the African bush, their needs are palpable and real. Like persons every where, there is the need for access to clean water, good food; self help in the areas of acquiring food, housing and education. There is also spiritual poverty in equal proportion. Will you refuse to sit at the table with those whom some might consider lowly?  Was not the Christ born lowly, in a feed trough of a stable? Can you grow a vegetable garden and share produce with your neighbor through a food pantry? Many students young and old are locked out of education due to personal or intellectual barriers. Can you consider developing and/or participating in activities such as art, creative, self growth experiences, or reading recovery to help those achieve educational success, some for the first time? How about tutoring in the local GED program an hour or two a week?

There are many things each person can do in their own community to advance and better their neighbor. And the mutual rewards from positive, active contribution may be enormous. So consider your own heart, your talents and gifts, then get busy! Find out how and where to use them. It is your own gift.

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