Today is Blog Action Day, and I’ve been spending the last week or so trying to conceptualize a proper post for this event. There are a thousand or more ways to write about poverty and so much that can be done to battle it. Too often, the topic overwhelms me. It’s hard to know where to begin…..so I’m starting small.
Conversations about poverty always leave me remembering my great grandmother, who traveled here from Europe all alone at the ripe old age of sixteen. She was escaping an arranged marriage, from what I understand, and her brother was supposed to join her here, eventually. He didn’t expect to find himself drafted. She didn’t expect him to die. But this is what happened. My great grandmother married a man who drank and who beat her. Eventually, he left her. She raised their many children alone, and as they grew older, some of them left their children to her care as well.
One of them was my father’s mother.
Here’s what I know: there are many ways to be poor. I also think that there may be many ways to heal poverty. Sometimes, we assume that money is the only solution, and it helps, to be sure. But there is so much work to be done, and that work is the work of people not pocketbooks. If you think about it in this way, all of us have something to give, and some of the greatest healers of poverty have little money to spare themselves. There are many ways to help, we only need to pay attention.
Our ability to extend ourselves through service has much to do with how willing we are to see the poverty that surrounds us and the poverty that lies within us, too. In fact, if we were to begin there, we might find ourselves able to act in more meaningful ways, simply because we are better connected to our cause. When it matters to us, we move with greater intention.
There are many ways to be poor. Flipping on the news on each evening provides a bounty of reminders, and if you have money to give, by all means–give it. But if you don’t, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all. If you don’t, maybe you’ll have the opportunity to dig a little deeper than your pockets would allow you. You might find yourself eager to serve those who are poor in any number of ways….in ways that matter most to you….because, perhaps, you’ve been there yourself at one point or another. In doing so, you might discover that the poverty that lies within you heals a little as well in response. What a fantastic victory over poverty that could be.