August 9, 2011

do you see the poor as i do?

Its been a long time since I've been in the work place. I did for many years (11) work as a volunteer with the Sisters tending to the needs of the poor in a neighboring community. We worked out of a basement office of our church. It was a crash course in humility, patience and kindness at the hands of a group of wonderful women; their order is The Daughters of Charity check out this link. I think you'll agree they are an order with some truly blessed women.

It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, both spiritually and emotionally. Seeing people many at their very worst, stripped bare of all. Yet I felt this pull something in me told me this was something that I had to do.Was it some kind of message from God pointing me to a calling? I truly don't know but I dove right in with a dedication that even surprised me. I learned what my strengths were and what my faults were at the knees of some of the most humble people I have ever met.

I began my work there I'm ashamed to admit with a little voice that whispered words of judgment for some of the people I was to help. Invisible people to many in society, the homeless, the mentally ill,the poor and even the working poor flooded through our doors daily. What did I know of this group of people? Comfortable in my middle class home with my middle class up bringing, food always plentiful with summers at the beach house it was easy to put people in categories and to judge their circumstances; but I learned!

I had many preconceived notions but through my work and with the example of the good sisters I was able to serve with love and without judgement. No longer faceless there was a cherished life attached to every story and struggle of unemployment, abuse, generational poverty, illiteracy, lack of adequate health care, lack of food, every unpaid bill and crime.  I am proud that we could do to assist them whether large or small because it was good and just; and prayer there was always prayer.

I haven't resumed my work with the poor since the kids died in the accident, their deaths took something out of me that I haven't quite gotten back yet. The sisters have moved on too, their convent has closed at our parish and are doing their good works in other places. Lay people have taken over our Outreach to the poor, in this economy the needs are great.  My ears perk up if Father mentions it at Mass but I'm not quite there yet, not quite ready to give of myself all that is required to go back. The people however,  they are never far from my thoughts. And regardless of if I continue my work with them, they will never ever be invisible to me again, ever.

How do you feel about the poor and homeless in your community?


  1. I teach sociology. We spend over 1/4 of the time talking about poor / poverty / working poor...etc. The forgotten. You are also right - it can be draining to give... when you are using that energy elsewhere (like living). I bet you find your way back. Kristen

  2. I always feel a bit bad that I haven't gotten there yet.

    But then I remember I won't be much good to them if I'm not good to myself first :)

    Thanks Kristen.


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