Giving to instead of giving up during Lent continues to prick my conscience.
A few weeks ago, driving to the Phoenix airport along 24th street, the landscape shifted swiftly from boutiques to the blight linked with poverty.
Maybe because it was Sunday, contrasts grabbed me like a dog with a rag, leaving me shaken. I saw the 7 Elevens, the Circle K gas/convenience stores for what they often are, the WholeFoods and supermarkets for the poor.
Stopped at a traffic light, I watched a homeless man attempt to right his wobbly-wheeled bicycle, while struggling to balance trash bags of worldly goods on the handle bars and a jerry-rigged trailer attached to his rear wheel.
Lord, have mercy, on him, on me, so prone to prefer pretty and safe.
Driving past barred shop windows, protecting those who’d do harm more than good, luring those without a nickel to spare thru easy loans, pawn, tattoos, and massages. Found myself wrapped in despair until I spotted the Set Free Baptist Church.
No stained glass, no fancy courtyard where coffee and conversation flow, just a plain building, not all that indistinguishable from its surroundings except for a couple of words: Set Free.
Brought to mind the story in Acts 3 of Peter and James, about to enter the Temple, when they see a beggar by the Beautiful Gate.
They stop, look into his eyes and say,”I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”
And the man, crippled from birth, jumped up and walked.
On this seventh day of Lent, I wonder, “What’s in my hand?”
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