Harsh Realities – Life is hard!

Life is hard.  TV advertising would have us believe that if we only purchase this car, go on that vacation, take this little pill, eat this way, we will sail through life unscathed.  It does not work that way.  Life is full of disappointments, some small,  like Adam Scott blowing a 4 shot lead on the last 4 holes at the British Open and losing.  Some are unfathomable in their horror and pain, like what happened in a movie theatre in Colorado.

We Americans, for the most part ironically have it so good that we kill ourselves by overeating, while most in the world suffer from a lack of food to eat.  Life is hard, and it is also unfair.  So we all have to do the best we can given our circumstance in life.  More and more in America, people are moving with alarming downward mobility; down the scale of middle class security and taking our first real  look into the face of desperation.  No it cannot be, not in America!  This is reserved for Haiti and Ghana isn’t it?

At least in Haiti and Ghana people do not expect a better life and so accept their station in life.  They walk daily with desperation as their companion; their brother and sister.  But they remain in this existence with smiles on their faces and faith in God in their hearts.  It is an amazing thing to experience, and hard for us to imagine.  It is kind of like the image of the Grinch in Dr. Seuss classic, that stole all the Christmas presents and went to the top of Mt. Crumpit on his sleigh to dump it (poor Max!).  But before he did so he stretched out his ear to gleefully hear the whos down in Whoville go boo whoo because it was Christmas without presents.  What he heard instead is the whos waking up without their anticipated material possessions, their toys, stockings stuffed with goodies; but singing instead!  Christmas and true joy does not come from what we have.  Joy and peace and the true meaning of Christmas come from within.  Sadly, sometimes we who have so much “stuff” are the unhappiest people of all. 

One of the great blessings in my life, that came as a surprise late in life when I thought my meaningful working days were over, is that I receive the gift every day of coming to work to try and make a difference in the lives of those who are looking to escape the constant companion of desperation.  The world has a long waiting list of the poor hoping to do so.  Most of the world lives knowing they will never have a life filled with the comforts we take for granted.  In Haiti, when it rains, it usually comes dripping or pouring through the tin roofs that are worn through and rusted out.  The meager possessions of the family get wet or soaked.  The mud floor becomes slippery.  When the rain ends, the sun does come out.  That is sort of the way the pattern and cycle of life is for us all isn’t it?  We have aspects in the deep recesses of our lives where our protection from the harshness of life breaks down.  We all have a rusty roof in our lives somewhere.  We all have the rain come down on us with nowhere to hide.  But the good news is that the sun usually comes out and we recover our perspective.  My joy and privilege is that for some people born and living in Haiti and Ghana, the work of the iF Foundaiton is like the sun drying up the mud.  For me, it is an untold blessing.  Join us in our work, or choose your own philanthropic interest and become a part of the creation’s sunshine!

Fr. B

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