Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)
March has been all about whining. Pollen, work, economy. Tomorrow is April 1, and I am turning over a new leaf. No more whining. You see, I had a reality check. I was given the task of taking some representatives of a foundation that is a major donor to our community on a tour of our county. The purpose of the visit was to give them an overview of our county, its industries, people, economy, housing, culture and heritage. I was chosen for my knowledge of our history. Another person went along to drive who could also talk about some current situations particularly, social service efforts and needs. We had a route carefully mapped out to catch the most important things. The site of our county’s first settlement, parks along the river, a neighborhood of artists’ galleries and homes, the school board building, one of our biggest industries, major thoroughfares, spring training ball field, the home of Meals on Wheels, the fishing village of Cortez, island beaches, low, middle and high income neighborhoods, and our county courthouse. I did not have to drive, so was able to keep up a fairly non stop narration with a few interjections by the driver. The representatives were a hard read. I guess they are used to dog and pony shows like the one we put on. The only time I really detected a spark of interest was when we drove by a new “one stop” facility for the homeless. All of the social service agencies who help the homeless had moved to a single site where meals, laundry, job services, medical and dental clinics, computer lab, mail station and even a barber are located. My friend who was driving saw the change of attitude, too, and pulled into the parking lot and offered a chance to go inside which was accepted. I kept thinking about our agenda, but there was nothing to do, but smile and go along. The foundation has provided a bank of computers to help with connecting to the rest of the world and job training. and the representative were pleased to see them in place. Medical students and retired dentists provide health care. My eyes were opened to another side of life I do not ordinarily think about other than grouse about the “bums” who come to our office mistakenly thinking it is the county library and we have computers for them to use. I was beginning to see that they have more needs than I imagined. As our guide showed us some artwork donated and for sale to benefit the center, I saw a picture drawn by a homeless child and heard a staggering statistic. There are more than 1,700 homeless children in our community. 1,700 children who go to bed at night in a hotel room, a car, a tent, a church gym or a shelter. 1,700 children, that does not include adults. And that is in just one county. Do the math. What do I have to complain about? Nothing. In fact, I have much more to give than I ever imaged.