Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Give It Away Or Choke On It

I met a friend for coffee Saturday morning. A man was sitting outside of Coffee Bean reading by the entrance. I glanced at him and smiled. “Good book?” I asked. “Oh yeah” he answered and then launched into what can only be described as a ten minute rant about what he was reading and what is wrong with America today. Apparently (according to him) the poor and the middle classes are sucking the life out of this great country and the new administration is poised to give “it” (whatever “it” is) all away. I’m not good at confrontation, and I was not raised to be rude, but this was getting increasingly uncomfortable. I excused myself with something less than grace, made a mental note to say a prayer for his black heart and went on inside.

The next day at church was Compassion Sunday. That is the day when we feed the homeless and distribute groceries to anyone who needs help. They made an announcement that demand was unexpectedly up 60% and our supply was dangerously low. So an appeal went out to bring food for the bank next week. Is this what he meant? Is this the sucking?

As my husband and I left church we looked at the line of people waiting for meals and groceries. I saw myself in it. Before I got sober I used to take my little girl by the hand and we would go to a place called S.O.S. (Share Our Selves) They would give us peanut butter, bread, lettuce, and diapers…whatever. It helped. It helped a lot. Yes my own bad choices were the reason I was in that line. Yes I was an addict and my money was going to drugs. But I have to wonder if I had not been given that food, would I have the compassion today to turn around and give others food? If people had not helped and believed in me, would I know how to help and believe in others? Everything in this life is a circle and it starts with the compassion of my Higher Power’s Grace. He was working in my life long before I even got sober.

Who is to say that reaching out and helping someone now is a waste of effort or America’s money. In sobriety I have learned that in order to keep something I have to give it away. I would rather live with compassion as my guide than a black heart that is so wounded it needs to rant at strangers outside of a coffee shop on a beautiful day.