Exploring new ways of seeing, new ways of being with an open heart and an open mind
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Will You Be Home for Christmas?
During the early 1990's, JB and I would head out every spring for canyon country. We were on a tight budget and strapped for time, so we would take turns driving, stopping only for gas, or at rest stops for bathroom breaks and a chance to stretch our legs before getting back on the road. The destination was what mattered.
One night, we pulled into a rest stop somewhere in Nebraska. As I walked into the bathrooms, I noticed a handwritten note taped to the door at eye level. I was pretty skeptical of things in those days and not exactly rollin' in the dough myself, but what I read on the note kept nagging at me. It stated that they were a family heading to Cheyenne, Wyoming. A job was waiting, but they had run out of money. Any help, in any way, would be appreciated. They were in the station wagon out front. I stood by the door and asked myself, how can I leave the bathroom without acknowledging their presence, their predicament?
I headed back to the car, told JB what I'd read and what I was going to do. I got a grocery bag, filled it with whatever food we had in the car - bologna and bread, apples and chocolate - and walked over to their car. I knocked on the passenger window where they waited. When she rolled it down the stench was almost unbearable. Piled high with clothes and whatever they could fit of their lives into the back of that station wagon, I knew in that moment that was the smell of poverty. Their two children sleeping in the back seat stirred as I spoke with them. I told them it wasn't much, but it was what I could do, then handed them the food and a twenty dollar bill. The father leaned forward toward me and said, "God bless you. God bless you." It turned into a chorus as I walked back to my car.
An epilogue, of sorts: Twenty years later and the number of families that are homeless, living in their cars and in charity sponsored motel rooms, has increased in vast numbers. On a segment of the BBC news last night, they showed families in Denver, CO. living in just such a motel. In talking with the parents of one of these families, they mentioned the lives they once had (not all that different from the lives you and I lead), and the lives they lead now. Christmas was not going to look anything like Christmas of the past. The mother wept openly, the father's eyes welled with tears as he talked. Despair filled that room. This should not be happening, not anywhere, especially not in what is still touted as the richest country in the world, the United States of America.
I wonder what the 1% are doing for Christmas?
Timeless images by John Vachon
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I feel powerless.ReplyDelete
As do I, so I had trouble pushing publish. But, I need to at least speak out, hoping that it's not just another "voice in the wilderness." Once again, it's not much, but it's what I can do.ReplyDelete
The Rich, They Have 99% of our money but only 1% of our Souls.ReplyDelete
Here is one of the 1%. What a blatant contrast! More than $4,000,000.00. As Mrs. Obama doesn't wish to wait around and leaving sooner, THAT will be $100,000.00 for the ride on US Air Force One.
Dear God, will we ever get it right?
My heart is broken by all the tragedy, want and lack.
To start, the 1% could care less. On that note of negativity, it is easier to get angry than to be sad, and homelessness is so terribly sad regardless of the reason.ReplyDelete
At times I think of myself as poor, but then I sit here on my laptop with a decent connection in a house of my own with a decent car parked outside, and a post like this one reminds me of the people who have none of these things. It is terribly sad.
Thanks for sharing this Teresa.
As long as the silent majority of people do not make their frustrations known to their government representatives........ReplyDelete
Tony, Right On!ReplyDelete
Sissy, It's a galling statement on priorities, isn't it?
Rubye Jack, Regardless of the reason, everyone deserves compassion, even if their situation is the result of poor decisions. I believe most of the problems have to do with loss of jobs, with no jobs in sight. I'm torn between anger, sadness, and wanting to maintain an outlook that would help elevate thought above all of this, but it's become Very difficult to do.
Wanderoke, Vast numbers of people are. I'm not so certain our representative are listening....
I tout small communities where people offer each other support through sustainable alternatives, but this is not possible for some, as things stand.
On last night's news, there was a story about a guy who was a customer of the food shelf. He volunteered to pickup a load of food and haul it to the food shelf. Instead he stole it!ReplyDelete
It's obvious that it wasn't about his hungry family--he was going to sell it. It makes me sad and angry that the charity of good people are turned into cold-hearted greed and selfishness.
Crushing! You've got me bawling here, my friend. I have, literally, lived like that in my life and have tried to help others when I can. I need to do more. I will do more. You have a very special soul, Teresa Evangeline. Thanks for the good that you do.ReplyDelete
I don't know what to say.ReplyDelete
I agree with Cletis. I need to do more. I will do more...and yes, you have a special soul. Teresa, don't you just wonder...???ReplyDelete
It becomes harder and harder for me to take pleasure in my country, as I see and hear what is happening around me. I agree with Linda: I feel powerless and frustrated.ReplyDelete
Ms. Sparrow, I heard that story, too. One bad apple...ReplyDelete
Cletis, Thank you for en-couraging me. :)
GLD, We cannot lose our joy, and you provide that over and over again. That's important. Thank you.
TM, I need to do more myself. I really like the ideas Jenn put forth in the link at the bottom. I wonder about a lot of things, my friend...
Bob, Thank you. I trust you're enjoying this night of solstice.
DJan, It is very frustrating. We do what we are called to do, and you've done some beautiful things - those silk scarves for the people who work in the places you shop, for instance. That matters.
Every day Gary meets people at the flea market selling what they can to live and those at the flea market are the lucky ones, they have cars and items to sell. Each day he comes home with a story to tell of someone less fortunate than us. I wonder every day about them and others and it gets me down much of the time particularly this time of year, many times I feel guilty for what I do have. Not long ago there was a news special on local TV and many cities in Florida have more than their share of homeless so we donate what we have of food, clothing and camping supplies. Every day we hear remarks like they're just lazy they should just get a job or it's their own fault. In most cases that isn't true any longer, folks who could afford their homes, lost their jobs and now can't afford their homes or their spouse died or they fell ill and it's snowballed to too many people; I see empty houses and homeless people and it's a darn shame.ReplyDelete
Less than one percent can fix what ails our country, 545 people can do it and have the power to do it, they just don't care to; I can't say it any better than Charley Reese did, here is the link:
Linda, I agree. It is no longer possible to look away and say, it's their own fault. As I mentioned, NO matter the circumstances we need to be viewing people with much more compassion than we do.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the link.
Thank you for this stark reminder of what we have, Teresa, and what we need to do. It is hard not to feel forlorn, but, we must move forward and make the positive impacts we can.ReplyDelete
Hi Penny, I think it's important not to feel impotent in the face of such difficult times. Yes, we do what we can, when we can.ReplyDelete
I live considerably below the poverty level and yet I know I am blessed with more than probably most people on this earth...for which I am most grateful. I don't have much money to spare, but I give things away on freecycle and donate whatever I can to the local place that helps the homeless get back on their feet and try to donate food to the foodbank when they do their annual collection with the post office. I know it's not much, but I have never forgotten what it was like to sleep in the park and not eat for many days at a time. One foolish decision, one accident, one health issue, one death...it can happen to anybody. There but for the grace of God...ReplyDelete
Rita, You've led a difficult life, at times, I know, and it sounds like you do much to help others. You've also described the possible scenarios that take people to places they never thought they'd find themselves. It's tough for many, far too many, and this time of year brings a sharp reminder.ReplyDelete
To many of us forget those who might not have what has been in their lives before.ReplyDelete
I wonder too, Teresa, but there are far more than the 1% creating the problems in our country today.ReplyDelete
That little bit you gave may have made all the difference to them, Teresa.I hope it has come back to you a thousandfold.ReplyDelete
I'm blessed that I'll be home for Christmas. It's easy to be overwhelmed...but in our local news:
Several people have paid off layaways for others at my hometown Kmart and Walmart.
5000 turkeys/Christmas dinner fixings have been donated.
Someone stepped up and paid the mortgage of a family with a severely ill child for the entire coming year. (They were about to be foreclosed upon.)
If everyone gives just a little - even $10 or $20 -local organizations can pool it and do great things. No one should ever go hungry, and no one should ever feel that there isn't Something that they can do.
Merry Christmas to you, Teresa, and thanks for your thought provoking blog :-))
Every little (or big) bit that we do is good, and we should not denegrate the small contributions some people can only make. It's difficult at best to know the solutions to these issues of poverty. I do know, however, that our congressmen and women are clueless and I'm tired of the whole bunch. Corporations and banks don't seem to be much better.ReplyDelete
Steve, Life has changed for Many people....ReplyDelete
montucky, These problems are complex and not easily resolved or identified through simplistic jingoism, but the disparity of wealth in this country and jobs that can actually allow for even a modicum of comfort as we know it, are few and far between.
Kate, Every little thing we do matters. Kindness and compassion for starters, and everyone can afford that. Yes, I'm tired of the whole bunch, also.
Li, I believe it has.ReplyDelete
You have offered some wonderful proofs of caring and doing remarkable things to help. I had heard about some layaways being paid for by others anonymously. The things you described are beyond heartwarming. And you are so right. Only $10 or $20 can make a difference for some.
Merry Christmas, Li.
Wonderful post. All my senses were involved in your description. God bless those who live in cars, who worry, wander and wonder.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mary. Beautifully stated.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this. It is inspirational. I wondered what happened to that family and like to think that what you did made a difference, perhaps just enough to get them on the road to recovery.ReplyDelete
I have wasted to much time in my life thinking about what the rich could do for the poor. In the end they will do nothing significant, that is how they got rich. Like you demonstrate, it is up to the rest of us to make whatever difference we can.
Hi Bill, I hope it helped. Sometimes it's the showing of compassion itself that makes all the difference.ReplyDelete
I really like what you've said here:"In the end they will do nothing significant." So true, but we can do much for each other, though, and it will be of significance, because it will be backed with Love.
Touching hearts to hearts and wishing you a happy holiday. JennReplyDelete
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Jenn, and a wonderful New Year!ReplyDelete
I'm not bragging but showing there is something people can do...yesterday my family spent Christmas Eve making 400 sack lunches..we had gathered all the clothing and blankets we could and took them down to the homeless in Phoenix Az. Not to the shelters but straight to the streets...this is our fifth year doing this but this year was extra special because of the loss of our dad...this was one of his favorite things to do for Christmas. There are things we can do...otherwise we might as well put ourselves in that 1%.ReplyDelete
That's wonderful! Thank you for telling me. And Merry Christmas!ReplyDelete
I came here from your later post (Jan 2014) and found this story worth reading. It's a topic that has been on my mind quite a bit today. I wonder if we're finally seeing the breakdown of this type of capitalism - instead of giving people something to aspire to it's rewarding the rich. Very different from how it was.ReplyDelete
We are in a world of hurt ... thanks for coming over to read this, Jenny.Delete
yes, I wanted to read this too from your latest post .... it is inconceivable that children go hungry while congress rules to cut food stamps ... unemployment benefits ... states where the homeless are not welcome even living in their cars/vans in places where it's legal.. wth?ReplyDelete
so so sad... the 1% don't have a clue .. I think that in order to run for public office... they need to spend at leaste an hour or two in a shelter ... probably wouldn't do any good as they would think ... it's their damn fault... rat bastards.
Those who make the rules are the flagrant violators of the principle of loving your neighbor and helping wherever you can ... doesn't look as though it will change soon, but you often don't see tipping points coming and then there you are ... I hope that's how this works.Delete
Good for you, Teresa. I wonder if anyone else helped that family.ReplyDelete
I sure hope so, Tony, and all the families just like theirs.Delete