Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, January 28, 2004  


I always try to do something locally to help people; whether through my church or some other institution. We have a homeless sanctuary called Loaves and Fishes which feeds people daily and offers some services.

At one time I used to go and do kitchen work each week preparing meals for indigents. I moved on to other volunteer work, but still contributed from time to time.

We had another organization called Senior Gleaners which were retired folks who picked the leftovers of fields and orchards to contribute the produce to soup kitchens and food pantries. A very good group.

We had two fruit trees in our backyard at one time. A plum tree and an orange tree. I got the gleaners to come and harvest my plum tree one year and that was nice. It's good to see such bounty not go to waste.

The dwarf orange tree, though, was not a sweet orange. No one would enjoy eating it, but one year the fruit was delicious, and as it began to fall, my wife and I collected it to take to Loaves and Fishes for use and distribution.

We drove there one Saturday morning with our load in various grocery plastic bags and offered them to the personal in the warehouse. As we waited to unload our truck, a man came up to us from a small group of people gathered there.

He explained that his wife was pregnant, and fresh oranges would be welcome. We happily gave him a bag. The warehouse door opened and we delivered the rest of our load to their care.

While we were doing so a single man began pacing near us with a malevolent air and foul attitude. At last he approached us and said, "You gave those other people oranges, but you didn't give me any."

I looked at his bitter and mean expression, and felt downcast inside. The oranges were gone. We'd handed them all over, but I was disturbed by his sneer and sense of entitlement.

I said to him, "All you had to do was ask like they did."

When I used to volunteer at a place called Francis House, I often encountered people demanding money, motel vouchers, bus tickets, and so forth from us with that same sense of entitlement. I would tell them, "We're not the government. We don't owe you anything, and you have no right to anything of what we offer for help."

They were often taken aback and shocked to be told so. They sat there thinking that this Christian charity was automatically deserved, and that they ought not to be humiliated by even asking for help. In fact, they needed greater humiliation because they were often full of pride and the spirit of gimme, gimme, gimme.

They were spoiled with a sense that they were owed. By that weird, amorphous abstraction called Society. They had no conscience that Society was other people who worked for their money and were owed an accounting for how it was spent.

This is a propos of nothing, but a simple story. I am always struck in memory of that mean faced man who begrudged others some of my oranges, but hadn't the simple courage or humility to ask for himself. He snarled and sneered for being left out, but hadn't been rejected because he'd never asked.

He was a kind of classic lost soul to me. A great example of all those who are bitter but can never ask for help; and so miss God because they are proud despite their depravity and degradation. They spite themselves rather than be humble and generous of spirit. Their envy ruins them.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 10:59 PM |