poverty

What We Seek

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“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”

~ Gregory J. Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Painting by Simon Palmer

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Your Own Poverty

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“Surrender your own poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon.”

~ Thomas Merton, The Hidden Ground Of Love

Painting by Vincent Van Gogh

The Other Side

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“When we set out to seek our private happiness, we often create an idol that is sure to topple. Any attempts to protect any full and private happiness in the midst of so much public suffering have to be based on illusion about the nature of the world we live in. We can only do that if we block ourselves from a certain degree of reality and refuse solidarity with “the other side” of everything, even the other side of ourselves.”

~ Richard Rohr, Preparing For Christmas

Painting by Halin de Repentigny

Just Listen

Obama laid it all at the funeral for the 5 slain Dallas Police officers. Clear as day. You read the comments and see how so many people are “offended” that the flippin’ PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES said what he said at a funeral. “He had to go and push his progressive liberal agenda…”

I understand why people might feel that way. It’s a great way to avoid actually hearing what he is saying. What better place and bigger audience to say what needs to be said. Most times people say something that is the truth and they don’t want to hear it they act offended or inconvenienced.

You read things like “Thank God for President Bush. He has class.” Yes. Why would President Bush say anything? That’s exactly how things never change. Nobody says anything.

Do people have a responsibility to take care of themselves? YES. Of course. Is anyone saying that government is the only way to help solve our problems? No. Not at all. Nobody is saying that. You would think from watching FoxNews that’s what’s being said but if you put down your blind hatred and anger and listen. Just listen to your heart. Think for a moment and then listen to what he is saying….

We are all to blame for the current state of the nation. If we care about the future of this country we have to speak honestly about why there is such a gap between the wealthy and the poor in one of the wealthiest nations on the planet and the long term effects that has on our resources and our souls…on our people.

I read things from folks I know that act like people on welfare are living some sort of ClubMed lifestyle. That it’s great to get a free check from the government and do nothing all the time. Are you kidding me? Look beyond your limited life experience at poverty in America. There are plenty of places on the internet and in your own city to see the wide ranges of effects poverty has on people. Are there people who milk the system? Of course? Could people work harder? Of course. But here is the thing. You and me aren’t other people. We have our lives and other people have theirs. We have absolutely no idea of most people’s history and what sort of lives they lead. THANK GOD we live in a country that can help them. Because what is the alternative? Do we take their money away? Do they just magically disappear? Do their kids disappear too? Do we punish them too? I’m lucky. I’m white and I have a family that is financially well off enough to help me when I need it. A lot of people aren’t that lucky.

We turn a blind eye to what is put out there for so long and act like in America everyone has a fighting chance! And they do. We also ignore the fact that for every winner someone else has to lose because that is how our system is rigged to work. If you’re #1 you get the job! What happens to #2? Not my problem right?

My head spins when I think about how I used to view the world. What’s best for me is best for everyone. Utterly ignorant and inexperienced. Sheltered.

We have to help ourselves and in doing that we have to help our country. We have to listen to people who talk about helping other people instead of building up our own walls and turning our backs on others because all we are really doing is turning our backs on ourselves. If you disagree with me I’m sure there is a group of people that will back up your views and that’ll make you feel better.  Meanwhile the world continues to spin and another kid’s mother or father dies…be it a man or woman on the street or a man or woman in uniform.

But let’s not talk about one of the most important issues we could talk about in our day right? Let’s be offended. Not at a funeral. That would be inconvenient right? We’ll save that for another day. Just like everything else we never get around to working on.

 

Gate Of Heaven

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“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us… It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”

~ Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Happy Birthday Thomas!

This Is What You Shall Do

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“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”

~ Walt Whitman, Preface to “Leaves of Grass”