I heard a story recently that sparked an inspiration. It was about a man who was on his way home from shopping and he passed a young woman, a street dweller from her attire, who seemed in great distress. There’s a look in someone’s eyes that tells you that they are about to cave-in or give up hope. She had that look. All he had handy was a bunch of bananas and giving that seemed an inadequate response.
The rest of the short distance home he prayed for the woman, with more than a dash of self-pity for himself too. He would like to have been able to help but was unemployed and the roof over his own head was thanks to the good graces of another. If only God had given him a job and an income he could do a lot for others in need. His conscience seemed to answer him as he thought that the best thing would be to do what he could in the moment.
On arriving home he resolved to do just that; flung open the cupboards and set about preparing a few items. A tin of sardines, a sandwich box with a few slices of bread, a sachet of ketchup from a fast food outlet, a bottle of water, a clean t-shirt and a couple of the aforementioned bananas and then hurried back to the place he had seen the woman. She was still sat on the pavement, leaning against the wall of a building, a tormented and now slightly embarrassed look on her face as he dropped off the package with a few words. As he walked away her face brightened a little as she investigated the contents of the bag. A little light shone in the darkness of her situation; an immediate need met.
The story put me in mind of the part of the Our Father where we ask for our daily bread. For many it’s a matter of routine having already secured rather more than the daily bread, the weekly wage, the monthly salary, the annual pension or even state benefit ticks that box. For others it is a real plea from the heart, one which Our Father does answer, but he does need the cooperation of those he has already blessed in abundance.
Often people think they can do nothing to change the world, but the truth is that however short we may be or perceive ourselves to be, there is no one who can do nothing, we can all help our neighbor just by doing what we can in the moment as it’s presented to us. If the roles were reversed, what would we hope for or expect?