Monday, May 11, 2009

An actual Big Thought

I'm reposting because what I wrote below is vague, shallow, and silly and really, who cares? Here's what really stopped me in my tracks in Texas:

We threw a giant outdoor festival for the survivors of Galveston. They've been through two storms that essentially wrecked the island, and we wanted to help and encourage them. Part of my job was to stand on a chair with a bullhorn and tell the incoming folks what they'd find inside. Three things made them look like they wanted to mow me down so they wouldn't miss out: Free haircuts (because who has money for that when you've lost everything?), free family portraits (these folks had lost all their pictures), and a small gold ticket for free groceries. I didn't know whether to cry or throw up, the need was so great, and what I could offer so small. All I could do was smile, try to convey some love and encouragement, and run through my mandatory shpiel as fast as possible.

A friend who was in the prayer tent told me about one woman he met who was hoping God might help her husband get off of drugs...but this was the THIRD thing on her list, after a safe place to live and a job.

I asked a fellow Vineyarder, the wife of our national director, "When does this stop breaking your heart?" "It doesn't," she said, hugging me. "That's the gift of compassion." Here's the thing, though: I don't have the gift of compassion. But what I saw there rammed through all my defenses and made me want to do whatever I could to help these folks. And sometimes the best you can do is run through your shpiel as fast as possible, and then pray for miracles as the crowds stream by.


heidikins said...

Oh my goodness.

there are no words.


(Ok, so maybe one, pitiful, word that does nothing to convey the emotion I'm trying to grapple with)


Stella said...

Yes, please tell more of your experiences!

Is it poor blog etiquete if I share an experience I had? Last week I had jury duty ... while people were coming up with lame excuses to get off the jury, there were some heart tugging, lump in the throat moments ... like the young (18!) mom who wanted to stay so she could collect the piddly $15/day pay cause they needed the money, or the trucker who hadn't worked in a year and plead (in a trembling voice) with the judge to be dismissed so he could start his new job after having recently passed his drug test (yes, he was dismissed).

Counted my blessings as I drove to work this morning. Sigh.

Sarakastic said...

You do too have the gift of compassion!

LEstes65 said...

Ditto on what Sarakastic said. You rock, my love. And you may not think you have a natural flowing of compassion. But, as a personal recipient of said compassion, I know different!

Texas was lucky to have you here. Even for so short a time.

Melanie said...

I saw some of my friends' pictures of homes along the Gulf that had been broke my heart. How awesome that you got to be a part of that! And, I love that you got to be "the voice" that day. :)

Stacy said...

You definitely have the gift of compassion. :)

As a side note, I was in the Milan Vineyard Church on Sunday (I'd overslept for my church in Ann Arbor and the Vineyard Church is my "back up church" for alarm clock related mishaps) and the pastor mentioned that he and the youth pastor had been in Galveston over the week. I was confused for a moment because I remembered reading something about Galveson recently, but I couldn't recall what. Then as he kept talking, I remembered that you were in Galveston for the same event. Then I got jealous of this pastor and youth pastor because they were at the same event as you, and didn't know enough to find you and tell you hello from me.