By Carrie Lockhert
They filed in one by one, heads down, reluctant to meet a welcoming smile, unsure of what they might find. Shuffling forward into the warmth of the small hall, each found a place at one of the portable tables and quickly took a seat with anxious anticipation. I extended my hand, introducing myself and requesting their name in return which was given with a look of surprise. I proceeded to ask each one if they had anything in particular that they would like us all to pray for before dinner was served that evening. As I progressed around the room, my tablet of prayer requests filled more than two pages as new acquaintances shared their supplications as well as gratitude. To break bread and engage in conversation with a woman my same age who in less than one hour will leave the table and re-enter her life, spending the night outside, surviving the chilling 21 degree winter night, is a humbling experience. And one of the best gifts I have ever received. Yet as my awareness expands I see an exponentially increasing need that overwhelms and immobilizes me with fear. How can I, one person, possibly make a difference.
I’m one of the “lucky” ones. I have my health, a happy marriage. I’m educated, employed with a nice roof over my head and far more than enough to eat at any time during the day or night.
When turning 40 a few years back, I felt my “landmark” birthday deserved a special gift and the prize I had in mind was a new designer leather handbag. I spent over a half dozen hours researching and shopping for the perfect bag that would be my special birthday gift. Six years later, while I still use my bag daily, context has provided an alternate perspective.
The Dooney & Bourke handbag cost about $300 not including my six hours of research/shopping time. For the same $300 and six hours I could have served and paid to feed 100 people for four nights at West Central Episcopal Mission. (Average nightly cost to feed approximately 100 people is $75.)
So now, how do I feel about my “special” handbag? It’s nice but it’s price tag and what it means to acquire any new non-essential, luxury commodity, has given me a whole new perspective.
A bag is a bag. It’s just stuff.
Filling people’s bellies with hot beans and their hearts with a warm smile and caring conversation is better than any designer handbag.
And the real gift…
As I poured out my gifts, my spirit was filled in return.
And so as we enter a time to celebrate all which we are thankful for, I lift up my gratitude for the multitude of blessings I have been given so that I can in return share with others without expectation, but knowing that it is through giving that I am truly fulfilled.
And you can’t find that good of a deal in any store.
Join SpokaneFAVS for a discussion on “Faith and Consumerism” at its next Coffee Talk at 10 a.m., Dec. 6 at Indaba Coffee/The Book Parlor. Lockhert is a panelist.