Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Chasing Beggars...

To My Most Amiable Readers,

I chase beggars. Nine times out of ten, I do it without shoes on, which explains some of the wear and tear on my socks.

I'm busy kneading a mound of dough while lunch simmers on the stove. The kids are playing, but I sense a fight coming as the air is peppered with "I had it first!" and "NOooooo, I did!". The soup needs stirring, but I want to finish the kneading, someone gets bonked on the head by some other one. Crying. In the midst of this, "Ding Ding Ding DONG!". Our gate bell heralds an arrival. Hastily washing the flour off my hands, turning down the fire under the soup, and scooping up the crying child on my hip, I peer through the curtains to see, again, a beggar.

My first emotional reaction plays across my mind: "I don't have time for this! Go get a frickin' job!" I'm ashamed of it as soon as it comes. It comes from a flustered place of judgment, and I don't like that place much. Then I've got to make a decision. My children gather around me to see what I'll do. Why must I have an audience?!

Almost always I'm in my socks and I step gingerly up to the gate while the person tells me a tale of woe or simply asks for clothing or food. I ask them to wait a moment and disappear back inside, scanning my home and cupboards for items. There is usually something to give and by the time I make it back to the gate (still without shoes on), I have love in my heart to give too. A big smile and a "God bless you" come easily, and as I try to avoid sharp rocks on the way back in my heart smiles. I no longer am judging or questioning whether or not they deserve this or that. I'm just full of love and joy.

And I know this, I know how it plays out. But, sometimes I just fail. And then I have to chase beggars...

Today I was busy making pies to surprise Dustin and lunch, while simultaneously teaching Sophia, when the gate bell sounded out it's tune. It was violently windy and rainy out, and there she was. The round-faced, toothless, cheerful woman who nearly weekly begs here. She started her cheerful litany asking if I had any food or clothing to share. I said simply, "Not today, sorry". "Okay!", she smiled, "But do you have $100 pesos (roughly 25 cents) to share so I can go home on the bus?" I glanced back to my kitchen where I needed to be at that moment and said, "Sorry, I'm right in the middle of making lunch...." She smiled understandingly and moved on. I did not move on. Sure I went and stirred the bubbling sauce on the stove, but I felt awful.

The children watched all of this with their big inquisitive eyes.

Before I knew it, I was sprinting through my house looking for my change purse. I panicked slightly when I raced to the front window and could no longer see her in the cul-de-sac. Opening my front door I called out "Senora!?", thoroughly startling my neighbor walking by. Running out into the wind and rain (in my socks), I called again. There she was, down the street, and I waved her back.

"I have it!" I shouted, and her smile broke wide. Happily she came and took the money saying "Thanks so much, I had no idea how I'd get home!". "God bless you, goodbye!", I said, and was struck by it all; how on earth could I have thought that it was a bother to help her? It's the easiest thing in the world. And of course, I can buy more socks.

I got tired of it all, I guess. Tired of always being asked. Tired of interruptions in an already full day. But when I say "no" to a beggar (granted that he's/she's not completely drunk), I am instantly filled with guilt, which turns to anger at myself and at the beggar. "Why am I mean? Why do you have to come here and make me go through these moral gymnastics? Why don't you go do something useful instead of leeching off of me? I don't want to hear your eternal sob story, I have work to do....etc".

Then, I remember Christ. The multitudes that pressed him, and begged from him, and called out to him. I mean, no one is cutting a hole in my roof and letting beggars down on pallets. People don't chase me from one town to the next. But though Jesus endured such unremitting need on all sides, He did not lose His compassion. I cannot either.

So I'll give, I'll fail and have to chase them back down and then give, or I'll totally fail. It is a decision I must make each time I hear the gate bell.

"But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in the grace of giving".

Your Most Devoted,


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sarah. Well said.
I can easily apply this to my work setting where various
individuals need the love of Jesus (beg from me emotionally or beg of my time beyond the call of my official job duties). Seems we're always needing to choose what is Jesus's choice in this situation?
Miriam N.

Kristen said...

Oh how I love you Sarah. And miss you.