Monday, December 01, 2008

The Ticket

Oh, today was a Monday alright. From the snow, right down to my food falling out of the fridge at work and busting the container right open. My work day ended with me, throwing on my warm coat, trotting outside to my car, which started, and me driving home to my home warm and waiting for me.

I was 16. Never been out of the country before, and yet there I was, sitting in a structure literally made out of tin and cardboard. I was sitting beside a small girl and her brother. In her hand she held a small ticket crumpled in her hand. See, the structure I was in, was built on a hill, where people lived in homes also made of tin and cardboard. I was there with a feeding center that brought food to those who lived on the hill. The tickets were passed out to as many as possible. Once passed out those with tickets would stand in line and what for their food. The meals consisted of rice- plain rice- and beans, and a tortilla. Bland, but full of nutrients. We ran out of food. The entire time I was there, sitting with the girl, talking with her. (I use the word talking loosely, as I tried to talk using my broken Spanish.) She never mentioned how hungry she was. She did not comment on her growling stomach or her disappointment. There were no words as she played with her two year old brother. She laughed and watched the puppet show. She gave hugs and kisses. She had nothing. I had everything.

That night at the mission house it was time for us to eat. My plate was filled. And, I couldn't eat. I couldn't stand how the food smelled. I couldn't handle how it looked. And, I was ashamed. I threw my plate to someone, and begged him to eat it for me, and I walked away and cried. I didn't eat the rest of the night. I took comfort in the fact that my stomach growled. But, hungry is only ever a temporary state of being for me. I ate the next day, and once again was filled.

I had a friend pass away last week. She was elderly. From the time she was eleven she suffered with arthritis, crippling arthritis. Yet, this woman, who at times could not even walk, always welcomed everyone. She gave hugs freely, and always had a kind word. And when you'd ask her how she was doing, she'd smile and say, "Honey, I am just thankful I am here."

Each day I can roll out of bed. I can walk down my stairs, carry my things. I can wash dishes and clap my hands. I am, alive. And moving. I should be glad to be able to get out of bed. But, sometimes that's not even enough for me.

It should not take a starving child, or a woman in pain to remind me of how much I have to be thankful for. It should not take a disaster or tragedy. Each day when I open my eyes I should remember that I have a new day that God has given me. Each day, I get a ticket.

It's my choice if I use it.

Psalm 126:2
"Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."

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