Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Other Words--The Dignity in all of Humanity


Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat… We must find each other.”
~Mother Teresa~

Traveling in Europe, one often meets beggars on the street. The streets of Paris, of Rome, of Barcelona and even London have caused me to encounter many, many homeless people. My heart often goes out to them. Other times, I am guilty of wondering if they want a different kind of life. But, my reality has always been one of not knowing what is the best way to help. A few coins here and there don't do much. There are times that I am very clearly led to give monetarily. Other times, I feel that the Spirit puts a block on that. Maybe that is an excuse, but it is truth.

But about three years ago, while traveling, I felt a very clear direction from the Spirit that although I may not be able to give much, I should always give dignity. That is a challenge with some of the street people that are met. But I began to try to make honest eye contact, to smile, to speak, to acknowledge their existence even if I could not give money.

Then, earlier this year Jewel's story to read for school was "The Family Under the Bridge" by Natalie Savage Carlson. It is a little book about a mother and her three children who become homeless and end up living under a bridge. An old hobo (Armand) becomes involved with the children. Although Armand always says he chooses to live like he does, eventually the children draw him into another life. While we were in Rome last March we encountered a homeless man sleeping under a box. Jewel asked me if he was like Armand or like the family. At first I could not understand what she was asking, but she finally asked "does he want to live on the street or does he not have anywhere else to be?" I told her I didn't know; then I asked her if it mattered. She answered that she would feel sorry for him if he didn't want to be there. We had a healthy discussion that although we may feel sorry for someone for one reason or another, we should be treating them the same--they were still people who deserved to be noticed. At five I had no idea that there were people who had less than me, and she not only knows but she notices! I pray that heart of compassion continues to grow in her.

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse that she gets it. We were in Manchester shopping and met a homeless man selling a newspaper called the "Big Issue." The Big Issue is a scheme across England that allows the homeless to earn a little money rather than having to beg for what they need. I had no change on me. So when he asked if I'd like to buy a paper I smiled and said, "no thank you." He stopped in his path and smiled back and replied, "that's okay, thanks for answering." As we walked on, Jewel asked why he said that and I said because most people just ignore him. Her answer, "Is that rude or just sad?" It's both sweetie, it's both.

We may not have much to offer. But we can always offer dignity. A smile, a hello, a touch can sometimes mean as much as a few coins. Being noticed matters to us all.

Father God, help me to see people as you see them--as people with hurting hearts and needy souls. Help me to be obedient to Your Spirit when you urge me to give. Help me to always offer a person their dignity and acknowledge their worth. Help me not to be a part of a problem that ignores the humanity of those who have less than me. Amen.

Amy is the hostess this week at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31. Please join us there and be blessed!


Denise said...

This was a beautiful post sweetie.

~V said...

What a wonderful lesson.

Irish Coffeehouse said...

Dignity, smile, compassion and prayer are always free to give. I too find myself at times without any money on me, no bottled water and no snacks. It's then I'm reminded what I have to offer that is priceless.

Great post! :)

Kristin said...

Beautiful post dear...and well done as a mommy!

Karen said...

That was really great, I like the thought about offering dignity. That's a trait that doesn't seem to be used often and its too bad.

Susan said...

Yes, we always have "something to offer" those in need.

We are instructed to.

Thanks for sharing this, what a great lesson for your daughter and all of us too!

Tami Boesiger said...

I may not be able to give much, I should always give dignity.

Very important and life-giving thought, MiPa.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Oh MiPa...how very true. You've expressed an easily overlooked truth so very eloquently.

My favorite line--the one that gave me pause--was,

"...although I may not be able to give much, I should always give dignity."

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Oops, I see Tami felt the same way.

Now we see that I rarely read through the comments before commenting myself. *embarrassed grimace*

a woman found said...

It's so true!! We need to show dignity, that graciousness our Lord showed all humanity, we need to show it to whoever we cross paths with. Sometimes, I truly want to stop and just sit down on the ground next to some of the homeless I see and talk with them and listen to them and pray for them. I don't have the freedom to do that right now, with my marriage and children, but I can still look in their eyes and smile and say hello, give when I'm prompted to, and pray for their deliverance!


Amanda B. said...

What a great challenge. Thank you for sharing this prompting from the Spirit...I will try to practice it myself. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.