Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pensée overlooking the Golf Course

Most of us don’t want to know about it because it hurts us and gets us angry, but there is a world of unbelievable need out there and much of it is in our own communities.
by Charlie Leck

I sat for a while yesterday, over lunch, with a lady who was a perfect stranger until we chatted for the half hour we had to dine. I was doing some volunteer work for the state’s golf association and this lady was a spectator, out to watch her grandson play golf. She’s retired and tries to do volunteer work as often as she can. She works in a food shelf for the hungry in the little town where she lives, in the western part of the state. She laughed at a big story in the StarTribune that day that reported the success of current farms and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that farmers are making annually.

“Their equipment is so big and efficient now,” she said, “that they don’t need to hire much help. The farmers might be doing well, but small town America is in pretty bad shape.”

She told me how busy the food shelves are in little towns all around – that it’s difficult to keep up  and it’s difficult to find the volunteers they need to stock the shelves and give out the food.

“Thank goodness people are so generous. So many people would be starving if it weren’t for neighbors who constantly give food and money to us.”

She had a big smile on her face and a few tears in her eyes. She was aware of the conflicting values that were tugging at us both.

“We have lines now. It reminds me of what my folks told me of the depression years. The people are proud and humiliated. They don’t want to be there, but they have children who are hungry. This is America, mind you. This is America!” She looked down at her plate and shook her head.

"It's hard to believe, isn't it?" She saw the the question in my eyes. "That we can eat like this, I mean."

We didn’t talk politics. We didn’t have to. We both knew that politicians are just consumed by their differences right now – so much so that they can’t see reality. They won’t work together to solve the nation’s problems. The politicians call it “hand outs!”

I told the woman that my wife and I have given more to food shelves in the last year than we gave in the previous ten. I promised to give more. We had a beautiful, immense lunch before us and we sat in the clubhouse of a beautiful country club and looked out over the vast playing field of lush, green grass. She had these tears glistening in her eyes and I loved her for it. I rose and thanked her for her work and told her I hoped her grandson would play well. I shook her hand.

She nodded and thanked me for volunteering my time to help with the tournament.

I’m off to Mississippi in the morning. For a few days I’ll be surrounded by brave and loving people. It will be a good occasion when we’ll gather and sing songs about injustice and inequality. We’ll hold hands and ask the immense question: Why in such a wealthy and bounteous place is their poverty and injustice?

How can there be such gloriously beautiful fields of wonder and amazing beauty on which we can so peacefully golf a ball and, at the same time, such staggering need. I love the golf fields passionately. I cherish the wonder of the game. I also cherish the volunteers who work so bravely to feed and care for the poor and needy. The contrasts all came together at my little table yesterday and the nice lady (I didn’t catch her name) touched me pretty deeply.

Pensée… a reflection or thought (dictionary.com)

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