Reflection: It Could Have Been Me
A Reflection from Lisa Williams
I have just finished reading Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle. Some passages took my breath away so I actually pulled out a yellow highlighter to mark passages that jumped off the page to smack me in the face. It allows me to noodle about the words on the page in my mind later on. Yes, I can be nerdy.
There are so many ways to give back, volunteer or try to help. The opportunities, really the needs, seem endless and never ending. Food drives, coat drives and even shoe drives like we are currently doing for the Open Door Shelter. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Matthew West:
Do Something (lyrics)
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now, thought
How'd we ever get so far down, and
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"
He said, "I did, yeah, I created you"
But I was missing the point getting stressed about the never ending need of those who live at the margins. I cannot “fix” some things that need fixing. But by participating or contributing, it is showing folks that someone cares about them while helping their immediate need. And it can make us think about living through a winter without a coat or shoes.
Even better when we can share time and “BE” with those “at the margins” as Father Boyle encourages. For those at the margins could have been anyone of us. To look at a homeless person in the eyes while giving them a meal bar while visiting NYC, helping a Wilton resident pick a Thanksgiving basket at Comstock Community Center through the Wilton Woman’s Club, or food shopping with the clients at Person to Person through the St. Matthew’s Day of Service, I feel like I am looking in a mirror. In their eyes, I see me. But for different circumstances and luck, it could be me. Any one of those gang members that Father Boyle describes in his book, could have been me. No safety net coupled with horrific childhoods we have a hard time imagining, can have dire outcomes. “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.
And two generations ago, it was my family on the margins. My grandfather left Sicily in Italy to escape poverty, violence, hunger and lack of jobs. Sound familiar to today’s news headlines? He left Sicily alone as young man, with no education, only speaking Sicilian, for mainland Italy. He then moved to France, then Canada, and walked over the border into the United States. The entire trip took him 10 years. I hope to think that he was shown some kindness among the hardship of working and traveling for a better life. I hope to pay it forward without judgement. Whatever I face, I ask myself “WWJD” – shorthand for “what would Jesus do?”. A thought and life viewpoint I hope I show my children. Someday, I hope to see it in one of their text messages.
This is part of a series of reflections on St. Matt's Summer Read: Barking to the Choir. Take a look at the rest of our Summer Reflections.