Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Blessed are the Poor?


Yesterday our excellent administrator, Carol, sent me the death notice of a local guy who was well known in Belleville, at least by sight, because he stood at the corner of a major intersection, panhandling. He would frequent our offices when he was looking for assistance and the combination of his speech impediment and an inclination to drink made our attempts to fathom what he was after interesting. He spent several months in a coma after choking on food and we helped his wife and daughter who depended on his income.

A couple of weeks ago one of the folk from Quinte Deaf Fellowship let me know that a member had died. She passed this on because the deceased person used to attend out Inn from the Cold meal program. I intervened in a situation one evening where this woman and another hearing impaired guest were on the verge of fisticuffs. Through translation by another guest I was able to get them calmed down and the translator confided that she was generally quick-tempered and unpredictable. Just the same, after that incident she would wave and smile when she saw me at the church or on the street. One Inn from the Cold evening she explained to me through another translator that she had been cutting herself but got help through a hospital program and was doing better. I was touched that she confided in me.

Both of these people were in their early to mid fifties. It is a reminder to me that often those with disabilities have a tough go, and that poverty generally results in a shorter life. Jesus said that the poor are blessed, but it often seems as though they are cursed by compromised health and limited opportunity. 

I suppose those of us who are blessed with material security and wellbeing are the ones who are cursed when we don't see those in our midst who struggle for basic dignity. I know there aren't easy solutions, but the deaths of these two sure challenges me to consider what our response as Christians might be.

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