Saturday, April 15, 2006

Waiting for Easter

"So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid." (Mark 15:46-47)

At times what I write in this space upsets some who visit.

Not long ago a semi-regular reader told me, "I can't read you every day. Your words make me feel too bad. You wipe me out!"

His message was clear. I know I can come across as too intense. And, that concerns me. I struggle with what people think and how my words affect those who read them.

Part of the problem I have relates to solutions or the lack thereof.

I write about what I see.

Most of the time I don't have any idea what to do really.

It's just that I cannot turn away from the pain and struggle that I observe day after day.

Facing darkness is important. Even when we can't always see our way through, the first step is to refuse to turn away.

We keep trying to find solutions, actions that make sense--we work hard at building community responses. But we must keep describing what is here.

So, in the pre-Easter darkness, as we wait, what follows is offered as material for meditation.

Recently, America's Second Harvest (the organization that supplies food for a national network of food banks devoted to attacking hunger in the United States) interviewed 52,000 people who use the services of its partner agencies.

The findings were stunning.

Twenty-five million Americans use food pantries like the ones we operate in inner city Dallas. Included in this number are 9 million children and 3 million senior citizens.

Forty-five per cent of those interviewed said that they often were forced to choose between buying groceries and paying for utilities and heating fuel for their homes.

Thirty-five per cent noted that they often had to choose between using their limited funds for medicine and medical care and purchasing groceries.

The study reported that 31.5% had been forced to choose between food purchases and paying the monthly rent on their homes.

We see some of these people every week at our Haskell Avenue Resource Center. We receive almost all of our groceries from the North Texas Food Bank, the America's Second Harvest partner here in Dallas.

On an average day we visit with approximately 200 families about their food and financial needs. The vast majority of those who visit us come from working households or are retired after a life of work.

Poverty is very real in the United States. Millions of our neighbors face it every single day.

Poverty is a thick darkness.

It must be faced to be overcome.

In the darkness before Easter reflect on this poverty and its negative power.

For resurrection to come to inner city communities, we must rediscover an intensity that leads us to act with compassion, as we work for a renewal of justice in our land.


Unknown said...

"Facing darkness is important. Even when we can't always see our way through, the first step is to refuse to turn away."

I appreciate these words.

Anonymous said...

...we must rediscover an intensity that leads us to act with compassion...

I agree.

Until we are as outraged as Jesus confronting the money changers in the Temple -- to see poverty as incongruous in a land of plenty as was commercial commerce in a place of worship -- we will continue to stumble our way to liberty and justice for all. I pray that outrage spreads like wildfire. I pray that we all learn how to live and act the true meaning of the resurrection.

Thank you for helping to keep us on task.