This past summer I had the opportunity to travel through India and Nepal. This reflection was written after experiencing the poverty stricken streets of Delhi.
Shanty towns line the streets--I can only imagine that this might have been the scene in the States during the great depression. Only here there is no depression--this is daily life. Tarps held up by rope tied between trees housing families. Babies playing in trash piles naked from the waist down. Women hanging laundry to dry bushes (I can only imagine where they washed them and it's not an image I wish to retain but fear I should.) Questions rise up in me--do these people have jobs? Where do the children go to school? Do they attend school? How do the "wealthier" Indians view these "street dwellers"? How do they survive? Do they have family? Friends? Do they know they are poor? Street children beg for money--but as much as my heart desires to help them my head knows they are being exploited by adults and will never actually benefit from whatever change I gave. This is poverty--
I am keenly aware f my own wealth, the reality is I probably have more money in my money belt than these people make in a year. What is my Christian responsibility here? It is hard, near impossible for the rich person to enter the gates of heaven. What then does this mean for me? I am the wealthiest 1%--I am not sure I could be poor even if I tried. How do I justify my life? How do I live in the brokenness of Christ? How do I become one with others who are broken? I had no choice in my wealth--it can only be considered gift--if so, how do I share my gift and for what reason has God given this responsibility to me?
Today, this moment, I ask God to bless the poor and broken living in the streets in all cities, in all the countries, in all the world. Bless those who seek justice, and those who simply embrace justice even though unsure of how to attain it. And may the Lord abundantly shower peace and understanding upon the barren, dry, drought inflicted Earth--Amen!
As I re-read these words written a short five months ago I am reminded of those feelings that welled up inside of me as I experienced the poorest of the poor. I am an outsider attempting to live in solidarity with people I can't fully understand. Moments like those I had on the streets of the capital of India and those I have here in hearing or experiencing the poor in my backyard make me feel a bit hopeless.
There is so much poverty in this world, it seems overwhelming. How can I, or we, even make a dent into the needs of our world? I did not have an answer in the streets of Delhi and I don't have an answer now, but I think feeling helpless is not the answer. Even if my efforts make little difference in the greater picture of our world I must work toward something even if it seems hopeless . . .
I shared my feelings of defeat with my sister this afternoon, she said, "I'm sure once you become a nun you will have the ability to do a lot more outreach to the community." In that simple statement she reflected back to me one of my deepest desires pushing me toward pursuing this path. There is love in my heart that is too powerful to hold for a few, I hope that this life brings me the ability to love the world more deeply and that it opens paths to me that as I sit here tonight I cannot even imagine.
I had lunch a few weeks ago with Sr. Marijane, we spoke of saying "yes" and how it is only after our "yes" that God reveals things to us that are better than anything we could have imagined! I look forward to the unimaginable future!