Don’t know how you think of poor, but one of the ways I think of it is where Beckie and I had one child and were living through days when we sometimes had baby formula and not much else. It was a time when we’d make it to the next paycheck and have a little feast. That always made me want to have those who shared our situation over. We’d call up these friends and suggest we share a joined meal. They brought something of what they got, since they got a paycheck, and we’d bring what we got. Together we’d have a meal. Poverty can go much deeper than that, but it is one of the ways it is displayed.
We were grateful for what was available. Discovering what was available was always an adventure, but once discovered it made us very grateful. Making things last became a part of the gratitude. I am still in the habit of eating pop-corn one kernel at a time. Even when I scoop up a handful, I still pick kernel after kernel out of the hand holding the pile.
One day we were visiting friends and just gotten to their house, on one side of town, when we got a phone call from a guy from our church. He needed me to come home immediately. He wouldn’t tell me why. He just said that I had to come right away. So, we excused ourselves and left. When we arrived there was no one there, but within 2-3 minutes the friend from the phone pulled up in a pickup truck.
When we came out of the house he was waving to the truck. Coming up alongside we discovered that the entire bed of the truck was filled with groceries. There were two or three bags, big sacks, of flour. There were cans and cans and mixes, bags and bags of groceries. Our friend explained that the members of our Sunday School class had each bought an extra bag of groceries along with their own. A couple of couples that lived and worked on farms had brought in fresh stuff, but all of it came from the class as a surprise.
You might imagine that we were overwhelmed. Carrying all the food in and filling our cupboards, our shelves and fridge was an amazing experience. We called up the couple we had gone to visit and had them over for a terrific meal. Two days later we were in that class with about 25-30 other young adults, all married couples in our 20’s. At the end, when the teacher asked if there were any announcements, I stood and asked to say something. I shared with the class how great and overwhelming their gift was and what it meant to us. I shared how it expressed their love and how we’d never forget it. I shared that we were deeply grateful.
An interesting thing happened… the room grew increasingly quiet and then the heads of people started to go down and I began to feel this odd creepy feeling in my back. I couldn’t tell what it was at first, but later I believed it to be shame. I was stuck in a moment of feeling shame for… what? Not being able to provide? Being in need? Or just in the position of receiving? Whatever the reason, it was tangible and I stopped talking with a simple “Thanks.”
I’ve never forgotten needing. I’ve never forgotten the creep up my back either. It’s made me look people in the eye and smile at them if they thank me for something. It’s made me say, “You bet!” and pat them on the arm. It’s made me feel like I’m one with them. We’re in this needful place and we continue to be. I think that’s what Christmas says. It says we need someone who walks in the need with us, who looks us in the eye and smiles and shares it. It says, “You’re never, ever alone.”
I love Christmas.