In times of need whether that need is hunger, pain or disease, a person needs to feel that someone cares. The act of providing food, shelter or care is more than a remedial act; it is an act of love that should reach out to those in need.
It is also an opportunity to feel that you are part of the human race. When someone is hurt you know what is like, because you are part of the same group. By the same token, the profound need that exists in the world reveals our lack of love.
Because we are not suffering the famine that is taking over the peoples of Pakistan or Guatemala, we ignore the circumstances of people like us. We do not have to go very far either to find those who have been left behind by our societies. Katrina was the big eye-opener for US when people realized that there were thousands in this kind country who were living a marginalized life.
In the places where we live there are such marginalized people. They are the ones who sometimes are the recipients of well-intended charity or federal aid, but who rarely are touched by the love and kindness that you dispense to your own family and friends.
Whenever I have had the opportunity to listen to people who have lived intense through hardships, I find two different kinds of talk. In some instances there is pain, distrust and even hate that have taken over that life. When the person speaks there is a very vivid memory of what they lacked and how lonely they were. They also remember how people hurt them with words and actions and how they felt useless, voiceless and desperate.
In other cases, an individual remembers the painful situations and begins to share about individuals who helped them. They remember being at the end of the rope when someone came forth and opened their hands, their homes and their lives to include them. They remember the time when they felt embraced by the warmth and kindness of strangers who became their friends. Because of that, this grateful individual goes on in life willing to share more of what he/she has received.
The same way that hate has of extending its misery to others, creating more of the same hate; love also has a way of extending to other lives and when it touches them it continues like a warm flow of life that makes the right things happen.
It takes more than saying: I love you for a person to feel the love. It takes more than receiving cold assistance to feel the love.
If it were you who were in jail, or suffering from hunger in another country, what would you need? What would you hope for?
We need both to love and be loved. We need to extend our love beyond our families, friends and people who are like us in order to start having the kind of love that helps heal and comfort. In this coming season maybe we can give up many of the lights and unnecessary expenses and maybe we will find out how to love one another.