Wednesday, November 22, 2006
But for the grace of God....
The junior high youth group I head up collected numerous food and basket donations from members of the parish as our October/November service project. We then gathered on Monday night and filled baskets with the food we had collected. We trimmed each basket with colored tissue paper, ribbons and attached a $10 gift card to Food Lion along with a prayer card and holy card hoping to make the holiday a bit more cheerful for the 20 families we were helping. The day before, I had called all the families to let them know that their Thanksgiving Baskets were ready and that they could come by the church anytime on Tuesday or Wednesday to pick them up. As I spoke to the final woman on my list, she explained that she had no way of picking up the basket and groceries since she had no mode of transportation. In addition she informed me that she had 5 young children at home to care for and that limited her time outside her home. I could hear the children crying in the background and instantly sympathized with her situation. I told her that I could drop off her basket and groceries if she would give me her address.
It was a drizzly, blustery, and dark evening when I knocked on her apartment door. She stood there silently and unsure as my daughter, daughter's friend, son and I smiled with our arms full of food and baskets. We quietly entered her small apartment and were met with 5 sweet faces ranging from age 1 to (I would guess) 10. They were eating toaster waffles for dinner and were crammed in a very small eating area. As we prepared to leave, I said goodbye to the children and closed the door. I walked to my car feeling like we had not done enough. I told the girls to take the extra food reserved for the food bank and the extra food lion gift card and place it on her doorstep. I drove away in my warm SUV feeling as if we did as much as we could and that at the very least she would be able to put together a half-way decent Thanksgiving Dinner for her kids. It's hard to see such poverty, most especially this time of year.
Today is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, and most especially not in the mood to cook a big dinner. The house was covered with toys, the refridgerator needed a good cleaning, my five children were starting to pick on each other since they had been cooped up in the house because of rain and I had not yet made it to do my own grocery shopping. It was raining and miserable outside. I asked Rebecca to watch the sleeping King Henry and the other 3 boys while I made a quick trip to the Food Lion for my groceries. I was in a rush so that Rebecca would not have to watch the boys too long. I made it to the store, picked up the necessary things for a large feast, and pulled out of the parking lot onto the highway. But as I drove onto the access ramp, I saw her. I saw the woman that we helped the other night. She was trudging along the sidewalk with all five of her children on the way to Food Lion...presumably to do precisely what I had just done. I could not stop, I had to pass her by. My heart sunk at the realization that I did not help her...could not help her. She was Jesus and I just passed her by! Oh pathetic Christian am I!
I went home and changed my sour mood instantly, remembering all that I have and all that I am thankful for. I hope this post will remind me in the future of how blessed I am and how I should always remember that "But for the grace of God...."