Reflection - December 2014

posted Dec 12, 2014, 8:18 PM by theresa orozco, ossm   [ updated May 11, 2016, 8:44 PM by Nancy DeBiasi ]

Last week when I walked through London's Heathrow airport the terminal sparkled with Christmas glitter and glitz. I paused at one of the elegant stores to admire a lovely silk scarf, priced at £233 ($365). A bit stunned at the fact someone would pay that amount for a scarf, I proceeded to find the departure gate. I sat down there and decided to continue reading Katherine Boo's Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, a powerful book filled with true stories of people living in Annawadi, one of Mumbai's worst slums.  Katherine Boo chose to live among these poorest of the poor for several years, listening to their stories and observing how they managed to get through each day. The young children are waste pickers, sorting through stinking garbage to find items to sell for recycling. Few receive a formal education. The tiny sheds the families live in are next to a sewage drainage lake. Rats bite the children as they sleep. It is a contemptible life but one they reluctantly accept as their fate.  
As I sat there reading, I paused to consider my own privileged existence, recognizing that even something as simple as being able to read a book sets me apart from the Annawadi children. I thought again about that expensive scarf and felt a great sadness at the disparity between someone buying a £233 scarf and a child pleased to make a few rupees for a hard day's work in a dangerous, rotting garbage dump.
"What can I do?" I thought. "How does my awareness make any difference for the "have nots" of the world?" I am still thinking about that after returning home to face the Christmas blitz here with its glaring sales ads and savory enticements to buy all sorts of things for those who have immensely more than any child in the Annawadi slum.  I realize that each decision I make about what to buy, or not buy, affects the larger world in some way.  And I remember Pamela Chappell's song: "I can't change the whole world wide but I can change the one inside, and so I start from heart to heart, one person at a time."
    Emmanuel, God-with-us, you chose to come for each one of us,
    the wealthy and the destitute, the fortunate and the unfortunate,
    the peaceful and the troubled, the healthy and the ill. 
    You came in human form, a message of extravagant love,
    showing us how to be with those who have less than we do:
    offering a gesture of respect and reverence instead of disdain, 
    giving courteous kindness in place of thoughtless disregard,
    contributing ongoing support rather than a mere holiday handout. 
    Change my heart. Turn it outward, toward the larger world.
    Remind me daily of those who struggle with their existence.
    Lead me to help change the social systems that create this struggle. 
    Enlarge my awareness. Increase my generosity.  Guide my choices
    of how I live, what I purchase, and how I use my material wealth. 
    Remind me of your presence in those I tend to ignore or forget.
   Boundless Love,thank you for cherishing each person on this planet.  
 May you be spiritually enriched this Advent and Christmas season,

~ Joyce Rupp