Last Sunday, as we toured our friend around in Kingstree, they noticed the impoverished areas around us. The dilapidated houses, farm lands seem quite depressing to someone that was used to new houses and rapid industrial development in a city featured as the “Best city to retire”. Agreeing that indeed the main business center looked like a “ghost town”, there was nothing to ponder that I did not know already.
It reminded me of the first time I set foot to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Joyful Hope. When I heard in my heart that our Lord is calling us to live here, my immediate reaction was “No way, Lord. No way.”
Eight months down the road, we moved to Kingstree.
Charles Dickens wrote a book entitled “Hard Times”, a novel about an area that is a fictional industrial city he named as Coketown, England. Factory workers reside in this community. He describes the life of the poor, their struggles to stay afloat. The novel is also about the rich in the area like Thomas Gradgrind who developed a philosophy that poor people are poor because of their fault. Invoking this philosophy had made him focus on his interests, for he is a self-made man, that is, he earned what he had because of his hard work and discipline. The novel ends with the main character pursuing a political job so that he can change the plight of the poor, while the other characters experiences a realization of their false way of thinking and starts to sympathize with their fellow human beings.
In my neighborhood, we see men and women walk mindlessly. Their appearance reminded me of zombies because they move so slow with their heads down. It was as if they were carrying a huge invisible load at their backs.
I watched them pass through our front yard so they can short cut to their houses behind us. We entertained the idea of putting a sign in our yard to let them know that someone lives in this property now.
It was only today that I began to ask myself if they had food to eat. Or I started to feel in my heart that they might have taken a very long walk to buy their groceries and they have no transportation that is why the made a short-cut in our yard.
What pierced my heart suddenly?
I saw several post in my online groups about needing prayers. One of these posts related to a lady who feels very abandoned by God. She spoke bluntly about feeling very frustrated, slightly upset with God.
She looks into her home, her family members. Their behaviors sadden her broken heart. Adult children returned back to her home with a child after realizing their mistakes about their partners who cannot support them. In a moment of weakness, she leaves the house to have fun with the same partner against their advice. Other chaotic events led to episodes of instability in their mentally ill young adult child necessitating changes in original plans. Furthermore, expected income fell through leaving her in more debt. She felt abandoned by God after a life of being His good faithful servant.
When I saw my online friend’s post, I started to cry.
Ten years ago, I came from that situation and it is indeed upsetting.
I pointed my fingers to the culprit. It was different each day. On a sad note, I vented to God. Isn’t He suppose to be like our father? Isn’t He suppose to provide for us? Isn’t He suppose to protect us from this chaotic world? Where is He in the lowest points of our lives? Why is He hiding? Did we do anything to deserve this?
I realized that our Lord never left my side nor did He abandon us. He wanted to lead me to His Divine will, which unfortunately, is not my will. Thus, the struggle. But, I grew up and I learned how to fly in what you call another layer in the spiritual atmosphere. In this level, you can see the suffering of your neighbors and you are moved with compassion.
My heart was pierced. It was ripped open as I read my friend’s post.
If I did not experience hard times, I will ignore her post. And, then move to another interesting online feed.
But, now, I started to cry. I realized that our Lord allows these things to happen so we can be alive again. It is important for us to feel again with the hard times that our neighbors are experiencing. We need to be able to respond with love to the people God brought in our midst by helping them with the financial resources that God gave us.
Our Lord is faithful. He gave His only begotten Son to die for us. Even that TRUTH does not move us anymore. We become numb to the fact that God the Father loved us so much that He allowed His Son to die to save us.
If He is a person like this, He cannot possibly allow these bad things to happen to us and . . .
not cry with us.
Lord, I am sorry for judging the poor in our midst, for thinking that they are that way because they do not work hard enough for their daily wages. I am sorry for not giving enough to them for you have given me the graces to be educated. You have given me good health. You have given me many items in our house which I really do not need.
Thank you Lord for opening my heart today. Thank you for allowing me to love again and see why You loved the poor so much, making sure that they will inherit God’s Kingdom.
I resolve to be more generous of my talents and resources so that I can alleviate their suffering.