hoedls haven
Where Nature is the source of all artistic expression

Thursday, January 25, 2006

Prior to the Christmas holiday, the wonderful symbols of the Salvation Army red buckets and bells made their appearance. And my son, who is now nine years old (and much more cognizant of the world and circumstances around him), asked me, "Where does the money go that people place in those red buckets? Does it all go to the poor?"

I replied, "That money goes to programs and services to assist the less fortunate in our community, Leo."

Leo quickly responded, "And who are the less fortunate, Dad?"

My response was not near as quick or eloquent as Leo's question and, in fact, it got me to reflect on his very question for the remainder of the holiday season.

My father, when he was alive, appeared to be a person who was tormented during the holiday season. He would share with us that the Christmas season made him both joyous and sad. The joyous portion was understandable, but the sad portion had us perplexed. He would explain, "It saddens me that I am so blessed and that I can't do more for others. It's just not fair..." To this day, this sadness perplexes me - not so much the inability to do more for others, but the inherent sadness in my father because he felt so blessed.

A recent article stated that the 13 most affluent families in the United States have more wealth than 200 million families' incomes combined. On the surface, if we were to attribute the "less fortunate" label to simply economic status, then there would seem to be an extreme disadvantage and unfortunate circumstances for so so many. What about those who do not have a significant other to reciprocate love? So many feel alone in this world with little to no connection with anyone. What about fame and celebrity status? The overwhelming majority of us will walk through this Life unknown and unnoticed. So who are the less fortunate (if not solely taking into account economic status)?

My friend, it might very well be you or me. Perhaps the less fortunate are those individuals who are blessed in their life (as we all are) are are to hurried or selfish or blind to see it enveloping them. Blessings in front of us, blessings behind us, blessing over us and under us and blessings within us. To not testify to and to not celebrate these gifts leaves us that less fortunate.

As for my father, if he were alive today, I would remind him that his acknowledgment of his blessed life truly makes him one of the fortunate ones. And I know that his testimony to and sharing of these gifts throughout his life was the "doing more" that he just couldn't see.


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