Here begins the use of this blog. Finally. I’m always thinking about what I should write. Today I am determined to get something down on this page.
As the director of Everyone’s Child, I am often faced with making decisions about who we should support and how best to help those who lack the basic necessities in life: food, water, shelter, family, education. My motto has become “There is no end to the need.” There is great hardship in Kenya, particularly among the children. But this is true everywhere we turn. When I pick up the paper or listen to the news, I am reminded of the pain and distress that so many face, and to be honest, I find it more than overwhelming at times. I struggle not to become indignant over the imbalance of poverty and wealth and wonder if we as members of the human race are doing enough to relieve the suffering of humanity.
Today I read a passage from Madeleine L’Engle’s The Irrational Season that helped me comprehend this overpowering feeling of helplessness I have whenever I consider the needs in our world.
“We may be a global village, but instant communication often isolates us from each other rather than uniting us. When I am bombarded on the evening news with earthquake, flood, fire, it’s too much for me. There is a mechanism, a safety valve, which cuts off our response to overexposure.
But when a high school student comes to me and cries because the two- and three-year-olds on her block are becoming addicted to hard drugs, when the gentle man who cleans the building in which the Cathedral library is located talks to me about his family in Guatemala, rejoicing because they are alive although their house has been destroyed by earthquake…then in this particularity my heart burns within me, and I am more able to learn what it is that I can and ought to do, even if this seems, and is, inadequate.
But neither was Jesus adequate to the situation. He did not feed all the poor, only a few. He did not treat all the lepers, or give sight to all the blind, or drive out all the unclean spirits. Satan wanted him to do all this, but he didn’t.
That helps me. If I felt that I had to conquer all the ills of this world I’d likely sit back and do nothing at all. But if my job is to feed one stranger, then the money I give to world relief will be dug down deeper from my pocket than it would if I felt I had to succeed in feeding the entire world.”
Madeleine L’Engle’s passage can be summarized in the words of Rabbi Tarfon from 2,000 years ago; “It is not for you to complete the task, neither are you free to desist from it.”
So now I can go forward in this day with renewed hope that whatever I do to relive the suffering of a handful of schoolchildren in Kenya will and does amount to something. And not just me – I’m grateful for all those who have come alongside this vision to feed, educate and care for the orphans we serve in Kenya. It’s the proverbial stone in the pond effect that is being enacted here. One stone, many ripples.
Sr. Shamima Thiongo, Sr. Bernadette Mastroni, Fr. Thomas Mugi & Fr. Paul Stewart. Thank you!