Reflecting on Bounty….

Fall colors always bring me up short. It seems backward that the brightest colors appear just before the frost, a last hurrah before the grey and brown of winter. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo by my friend Kay, full of pumpkins and gourds, cabbages and mums. The shopkeeper has included all of the sturdy fall offerings, flowers that hold up in spite of the cold, pumpkins that last until you tire of them or decide to bake a pie or make soup. Yet most of all, I am struck by the bounty, the overflowing plenty we often take for granted day by day. We are beyond blessed in this nation of wealth and privilege. Yet across the globe, many struggle to just get by, working long hours at difficult and dangerous jobs for low wages. Their food for the day would barely satisfy us for one meal. Clean water means carrying a heavy burden, if available at all. Many households may share a single latrine, often little more than a crude outhouse. My first parish was St Mary’s in Burlington, New Jersey. Our priest, Father Greene, would challenge us all to donate the amount of money we would spend on food in one day to alleviate world hunger. He would fast on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, leading by example, depriving himself for one day to gain empathy for those who hungered day in, day out. Some of us high school students tried to fast as well. I only made it to lunchtime, yet that effort was not wasted. I began to understand how all consuming hunger can be, if only for a few classes one morning at school. Make time today to help those less fortunate in your community and around the world. Pray to see others as God sees them, to hear with God’s ears, to hold them with God’s arms, close to God’s heart. Look for a way to feed the hungry, not just for the holidays, but year round. Start a food drive, volunteer at a soup kitchen, make meals for the homeless. Give out of gratitude for what you have been given. And remember, when you’re tempted not to bother, “for everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required’ (Luke 12:48). Text by Connie Chintall, Photo by Kay Brickey

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Reflecting on Power….

It’s raining and raining. While our home has remained dry and secure, those living near creeks and rivers have plenty to worry about. Flooding plagues the Northeast and Tennessee Valley areas, while Texas is battling fires due to drought conditions. So I was drawn to this deceptively simple photo taken by my friend Carole. Her friend holds a single, dew drenched leaf in his strong hand. To place that leaf securely in his grasp took patience and a gentle touch. You can’t shake or tip the leaf, or the dew is gone. He holds the leaf in a cupped hand, adjusting the shape of his palm to natural curve of the leaf. In the midst of all this mayhem, this photo reminded me that God is sovereign and all powerful. Our entire world, throughout the ages, is like a single dew drenched leaf in God’s hand. This divine power is gentle, loving, caressing. God’s power conquers with grace and mercy, convincing rather than coercing. In the Old Testament, we see God patiently, persistently pouring out His love, regardless of the human response. In the New Testament, we see God deign to take our human form to pay the price for our sins. Christ lived and died among us, then rose again, conquering sin and death on the cross. The Most High, the Omnipotent, offers love, no matter what the cost. Let this unending love be our response to those suffering from these natural disasters. Take time today to learn how to help someone affected by floods or fires. Perhaps a neighbor that lost power can take a hot shower at your home. Cook extra, and share a home cooked meal. Simply listen to another’s story, be present to their pain. Let us be like Christ, like a cupped hand gently caressing a dew drenched leaf. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011

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