Friday, February 15, 2013

40 Days of Lent: Journal Entry #3


"What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, "Here I am!"

-Isaiah 58: 7-9

I began mulling over what kind of photo to take to express that word and verse.
I thought of glasses to aid in seeing...
I thought of a keyhole to see through...
I thought of finding poverty to photograph.

So off I went to look for something to photograph to express seeing the needs around me. That's when I discovered how clean and tidy my town is. You don't see homelessness or poverty around like you'd think. There aren't many places to find the hungry or the shivering out on the street.
They are hidden.

Or maybe they are tidied up and covered up.

Maybe, its good that there isn't any visible poverty showing.
Maybe its very sad.

Maybe the sad part is the look of affluence, the excess around. The nice, tidy homes. Maybe it could be people who hide their poverty, or maybe its just people hiding from poverty.

How do I hide from poverty?

Thoughts on Seeing today. Seeing the poor, the shivering, the broken, the hungry.


After writing the above, I started thinking about poverty in my area. I asked on Facebook where I might find it here...and then I took a long drive alone.
I explored my town with new eyes, ventured into places and neighborhoods I didn't know existed, and found places where poverty slapped me in the face. Nothing hidden, covered up here. It was exposed, and shouting.
It was such an interesting experience. Nothing I saw was any worse than anything I encountered every day in Bolivia, yet there I wandered around quite fearlessly on foot, and in my car here, I began to feel fear as I drove through places where I obviously did not fit in. It gave me quite a pause, and I considered it while I drove slowly through neighborhoods watching little children play, watching people walk up and down the street, seeing houses in such sad shape yet with people living there anyway. In my hometown.
Why was I feeling that fear? Why was I glancing away, and why did I naturally turn toward the nicer streets first? I forced myself to turn against it, to face it, to look long at these places. To trace the dirt and grime, to meet the eyes of the people I saw, to smile at them. To see.
I was fearful of the depression and poverty. I was afraid of what might lurk, of things I have no real experience with. The shadows were long and attempting to grab me, and I was too willing to run away.

An interesting lesson to myself. Its easy to write about poverty on a nice laptop in a comfortable chair maybe while munching on delicious food. Its so easy to be self-righteous and hypocritical. But then when the rubber meets the road, and I come face to face with reality, what then? What about this world, this other side of things, ugly and uncomfortable? What do I know of it, and what am I doing about it?

I never took my photo today. I saw new things, I have many new mental snapshots within my own zip code, but I never snapped that button on my camera. I was busy seeing. The photo was not made, but it was a changed perspective and new way of looking at my own town, my own neighborhood, looking for those hidden places, or rather, the poverty I hide from.

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