Thursday, September 13, 2012

"A Prayer for Those Who Have Too Much"

To my brothers and sisters in developing countries:

While I was deciding which oat bran cereal to eat this morning, you were searching the ground for leftover grains from the passing wheat truck.

While I was jogging at the health center, you were working in the wealthy landowner's fields under a scorching sun.

While I was choosing between diet and regular soda, your parched lips were yearing for a touch of water.

While I complained about the poor service in the gourment restaurant, you were gratefully receiving a bowl of rice.

While I poured my "fresh and better" detergent in the washing machine, you stood in the river with your bundle of clothes.

While I watched the evening news on my wide screen television set, you were being terrorized and taunted by a dictatorship government.

While I read the newspaper and drank my cup of steaming coffee, you walked the dusty, hot miles to the tiny, crowded schoolroom to try to learn how to read.

While I scanned the ads for a bargain on an extra piece of clothing, you woke up and put on the same shirt and pants that you have worn for many months.

While I build a fourteen-room house for the three of us, your family of ten found shelter in a one-room hut.

While I went to church last Sunday and felt more than slightly bored, you looked out upon the earth and those around you and felt gratitude to God for being alive for one more day.

My brothers and sisters, forgive me for my arrogance and my indifference. Forgive me for the greed of always wanting newer, bigger and better things. Forgive me for not doing my part to change the unjust systems that keep you suffering and impoverished.

I offer you my promise to become more aware of your situation and to change my lifestyles as I work for transformation of our world.

By Servite Sr. Joyce Rupp, after visits to Guatemala and Liberia.
[ ? Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, summer 1997. ]

Monday, September 3, 2012

Change and Transition

Change is the exterior events that are readily visible. Diane and I are going through a lot of those: packing up and leaving our home in Tanzania; riding a ship across the Atlantic; setting up a new home in New Jersey; becoming caregivers; and looking for paid work. Change is easy to describe and to talk about.

Transition  is the interior process of meeting and adjusting to change and to what it means. Some transitions are more or less universally understood: grieving for friends and colleagues whom we will not see again; saying goodbyes to places such as our town and the surrounding East African savannah; facing the anxiety of how to make a living; and taking on the responsibility of care for a family member. Those are difficult enough in themselves.

But how do I explain being in a restaurant in Oakland and having to suppress the urge to speak Swahili to the Chinese waitress ... or moments of sadness at the casual ease with which my compatriots accumulate so many things in their homes, in their lives?

How do I tell you about standing in front of a picnic table in L.A. with tears at the sight of all the wonderful abundance and variety of food ... or wondering why everyone is in such a hurry?

The most important thing I got from the re-entry program of our organization was the reminder that transition takes time and often continues long after the corresponding changes have taken place. -Earl

I beg assistance, God of my journey.

To accept that all of life is only on loan to me.
To believe beyond this moment.
To accept your courage when mine fails.
To recognize the pilgrim part of my heart.
To hold all of life in open hands.
From Litany for Times of Journey and Transition, by Joyce Rupp.