I am in good health. I have a stable job. I have a loving family and a supportive network of friends. I have good food and more than ample shelter. I have leisure time. I live in a country of great wealth. I enjoy freedoms and liberties that others in this world do not. I am well educated. I have the ability to communicate, to walk, to run, to dance. My life overflows with an abundance of blessings great and small.
Yet when confronted with your need, I am still so selfish, so arrogant. I judge myself as somehow better than you. I tell myself, “I have made better decisions than you. I am more determined, more motivated. I work harder. And I give you so much already. So…why can’t you work harder? We share so many of these same blessings. Why do you squander yours? Why do you make excuses? Why do you waste your time? Why do I need to give up my rightful earnings for you? What have you given me?”
I will help you, yes, because that is what a decent, responsible person does. But, oh, how I will resent giving away this piece of what’s mine! It makes me downright angry.
How easy it is to pretend that I am somehow deserving of my many blessings.
And then Luke reminds me:
To whom much is given, much is required.
And Dorothy’s word’s ring out:
Love in action is harsh and dreadful when compared to love in dreams.
And Thomas says:
Peace begins when the hungry are fed.
Anger is an acid
that can do more harm to the vessel in which it stands
than to anything on which it is poured.
In the struggle rewards are few.
In the fact, I know of only two,
loving friends and living dreams.
These rewards are not so few it seems.
Peace is the work of justice indirectly,
in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace;
but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity,
according to its very notion causes peace.
And Frederick shares his perspective:
Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave,
and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you,
there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me.
To see reality
–not as we expect it to be but as it is—
is to see that unless we live for each other
and in and through each other,
we do not really live very satisfactorily;
that there can really be life only where there really is,
in just this sense, love.
And finally the message from my teachers sinks in this thick skull of mine. I am not as bright as I sometimes think I am. My blessings are undeserved. These gifts must be shared, not begrudgingly, but with a glad heart. That is love in action. And I am slowly learning: if charity doesn’t hurt, I’m not doing it right. The sacrifice that burns also purifies.